Australian telco One.Tel Global Wireless is the latest bidder to withdraw from the auction of third generation mobile licences in the UK.
Just eight out of the original 13 bidders remained in the auction at the end of round 101, as bidding for the five licences soared way beyond expected levels. One.Tel joins 3GUK, owned by Irish telco Eircom, US group Crescent Wireless, SpectrumCo, which includes Virgin and Tesco, and Epsilon Tele.com, a subsidiary of Japanese bank Nomura, in the list of companies that have dropped out of the race.
The remaining bidders include the four UK mobile operators, along with TIW, owned by UK radio network Dolphin, Spain's Telefonica and NTL Mobile.
There has been a suggestion that following SpectrumCo's withdrawal yesterday, Virgin - which owned a small stake in SpectrumCo - is now backing One 2 One's bid. One 2 One is Virgin's existing mobile phone partner.
Total bids topped £12bn at the end of round 102. BT leads the way with a £2.84bn bid for licence B - the one with the most bandwidth - but there are concerns that operators will have spent so much on licences that they will not be able to afford the cost of building networks, and customers will end up paying higher fees.
Third generation mobile networks enable high-bandwidth wireless transmissions. Likely services include video, audio and streaming data on the move.
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