Licences to provide broadband fixed wireless access to the Internet will be auctioned on 10 November, but the process has come under fire from telecoms professionals.
David Harrington, director general of the Communications Management Association, said, "It's a good thing that wireless access is being opened up because it's the only technology that can compete with ADSL. But, despite our pleas, the Government has decided to proceed with an auction.
"In our view, this is inferior to the 'beauty contest' model. The 3G mobile auction was damaging to the mobile industry and customers are likely to pay the price," he added.
The sale of three licences, in each of 11 regions of England plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, will net the Government up to £1bn. Reserve prices range from £100,000 in Northern Ireland to £4m in London.
Nine bidders have qualified to take part in the auction, including Eircom and Energis. Orange is one of two companies excluded from the auction for unspecified irregularities in the bidding process. There is a "use it or lose it" clause to ensure quick roll-out of services and to prevent hoarding of wireless spectrum.
Broadband fixed wireless access provides high bandwidth Internet connection from a user's aerial apparatus at business or home premises to a provider base station. The technology is being hailed as the way in which outlying areas can benefit from high-speed Internet access.