Spectrum - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Our inquiry

10.  On 10 May 2011, we decided to launch an inquiry that looked at the way in which commercial spectrum holdings were allocated and regulated. Our decision was prompted by the imminence of the next spectrum auction in 2012; Ofcom's consultation on the rules of the auction, published in March 2011;[3] and a Westminster Hall debate on rural broadband on 23 March 2011.[4] We were also aware that there were conflicting opinions among UK spectrum users, notably the four main mobile network operators (MNOs), about how the next spectrum auction should be conducted.

11.  We agreed terms of reference and invited evidence on the following issues:

  • Whether the proposed method of spectrum allocation promotes, or hinders, competition in the provision of mobile broadband services;
  • whether the forthcoming auction can provide value for money for tax payers and how that should be balanced with benefits for consumers;
  • what is the potential for next generation mobile internet services offered by the forthcoming availability of spectrum;
  • whether the forthcoming auction can deliver improved mobile broadband coverage in rural areas, as well as cities;
  • whether licence fees for mobile operators have previously been set at appropriate levels, and how this should be assessed;
  • how the position of the UK compares with other countries, with regards to the allocation and utilisation of mobile broadband spectrum;
  • what is the possible impact of the auction on alternative uses for spectrum.

12.  We received 22 written submissions and held three oral evidence sessions during which we heard from Three, Everything Everywhere, Telefonica O2, Vodafone, Arqiva, Inmarsat, Intellect UK, Ofcom and DCMS. In June 2011 we were given a technical briefing on spectrum by Ofcom. We would like to thank Greg Bensberg, Director of Spectrum Policy and Matthew Conway, Director, Regulatory Development and Nations at Ofcom, for their technical advice, given informally throughout the course of the inquiry.

3   Ofcom, Consultation on assessment of future mobile competition and proposals for the award of 800Mhz and 2.6GHz spectrum and related issues, March 2011 Back

4   HC Deb 23 March 2011 c315WH Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 3 November 2011