Hunt to warn mobile chiefs against 4G litigation


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The Independent Online

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, will summon UK mobile phone operators to a meeting next month to warn them against any litigation that might derail the next auction of mobile-phone frequencies for high-speed networks.

The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, yesterday delayed the 4G spectrum sale, which could raise up to £2.6bn, until the end of next year, saying it would hold a further round of consultation about how to structure the process.

Mr Hunt is keen to ensure that when the process is finalised it is not delayed by operators turning to the courts to secure a more favourable deal. He has scheduled a meeting with the bosses of Everything Everywhere, O2, Vodafone and Three in mid-November to ensure the process is smooth.

Ofcom plans to update the market at the end of this year and start the auction at the end of 2012. It pointed out that the new spectrum – dubbed the "lifeblood" of smartphones – will not become available until 2013, so the delay was "unlikely to have a material impact on the timeline".

An industry source said the regulator was still "cutting it fine".