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Scrap looms over radio waves

05 мая 2008

Europe’s leading mobile phone operators on Monday set themselves on a collision course with television broadcasters by making a pitch to secure a big chunk of the “digital dividend” radio ­spectrum.

A report commissioned by Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange calls for the mobile operators to be allocated 25 per cent of the spectrum, or radio waves, made available by the switchover from analogue to digital television.

The report, written by Spectrum Value Partners, a consulting firm, claims that giving mobile operators access to the digital dividend spectrum could be worth up to €165bn ($255bn, £129bn) to consumers and companies.

Auctions of the ultra high frequency spectrum previously used for analogue television could also raise billions of euros for European governments.

Telecoms groups such as Vodafone are keen to use the spectrum for wireless broadband services such as e-mail and fast web surfing on mobile phones.

But broadcasters are reluctant to give up the spectrum because they want to use it for new services such as high definition television.

The European Broadcasting Union, which is lobbying for public service and commercial broadcasters on the digital dividend, said calls for 25 per cent of the spectrum to be allocated to mobile operators were “a bit high”.

“Some of the telecoms operators’ assumptions are very optimistic and under­estimate the amount of spectrum required for broadcasting which needs to meet audiences’ expectations in the future,” said the EBU.

European Union governments and regulators will decide in due course who should use the spectrum previously used for analogue television.

The UK will be one of the first European countries to auction off such spectrum next year.

Richard Feasey, director of public policy at Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile operator by revenue, said: “This spectrum is some of the most important to be released in the last 20 years and will be critical to Vodafone’s plans to deploy mobile broadband services in Europe on a truly universal basis.”

The report by Spectrum Value Partners estimates the net present value of giving mobile operators access to the ultra high frequency spectrum to be between €63bn and €165bn.

The valuation, which represents the sum of annual benefits over the period between 2008 and 2027, discounted to current prices, is partly based on a calculation of the cost savings secured by the operators through use of the spectrum.

The ultra high frequency spectrum could enable mobile operators to make significant savings because it enables wireless signals to travel relatively long distances, meaning they would not have to deploy as many base stations.

The valuation is also based on spin-off benefits from wireless broadband services, such as mobile advertising.

Spectrum Value Partners has assumed in its report that the telecoms groups would pass on savings to consumers in the form of reduced prices for mobile broadband services.

Источник: Financial Times

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