Mobile operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone face a combined increase in spectrum licence fees of £159m, after Ofcom revised its proposals for the new prices for spectrum use.
Ofcom put forward initial proposals in October 2013 to raise the price operators will pay to £245m in response to a request from the government to reassess the prices being paid for 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum.
Ofcom revised this down to £182m in August 2014 after the operators had expressed concerns that the prices being put forward were too high, especially as they have been spending millions on new 4G networks.
Now, in light of rural coverage obligations agreed to by operators to have 90 percent 2G voice coverage by 2017, Ofcom has again lowered the proposed licence increases to a combined total of £159m.
EE will have to pay the biggest amount, at £75.6m. This is down from the proposed £86.4m put forward in August 2014, but still three times the £24.9m it currently pays.
Vodafone and O2 will have to pay £61.2m, up from the current £15.6m but down from the £65.8m last suggested.
Meanwhile, Three will have to pay £25.2m, four times the current £8.3m but a slight reduction on the last proposed figure of £28.8m.
In total this will swell the combined price to £223.3m, a £159m increase on the £64.4m currently paid by the operators.
The figures are open for consultation until 17 April when Ofcom will make a final decision.
V3 contacted Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three for comment on the latest figures from Ofcom. O2 said that it will review the proposals and respond in due course.
EE said the new fees did not fully take into account the costs associated with expanding rural coverage.
“We're disappointed to see that Ofcom’s current proposal fails to recognise the obvious costs associated with doing this, and note this could risk future network investment if not properly addressed," it said.
Vodafone and Three had not responded at publication.
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