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Government to intervene in wireless broadband spectrum dispute

Warwick Ashford

The UK government is expected to intervene in the dispute between mobile operators over sharing radio spectrum to be used to provide wireless broadband to rural areas.

The government wants mobile operators to use the 900MHz bandwidth to provide wireless broadband to areas where fixed line broadband is too expensive.

This is a key part of the proposed Digital Britain project to make a broadband connection of at least 2Mbps available throughout the country.

Vodafone and O2 own the 900MHz spectrum and will have to reach an agreement on sharing it with Orange, T-Mobile and 3 for government plans to go ahead.

Lord Carter, the communications minister, set a deadline of April 30 for the mobile operators to reach an agreement on trading spectrum between themselves.

In February, Carter summoned UK mobile phone operators to a meeting to discuss ways of resolving the dispute.

Government ministers look likely to step in as industry-led talks appear headed for failure, according to the Financial Times.

Carter has said the government will support an "imposed solution" to the spectrum dispute if an industry-led compromise is not agreed by the end of April.

Mobile operators need to reach agreement soon if the government is to meet its commitment to provide broadband to every UK home by 2012.


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