UK mobile customers could have to pay more with Ofcom set to increase 4G operators' license fees.
Mobile customers always feel cheated when their operator contacts them to inform them that the price of their existing tariff is going to increase. Sadly, that could be about to happen again with the cost of delivering 3G and 4G set to rise significantly.
Ofcom, under directions from the Government, have been instructed to revise the amount they charge operators for their existing spectrum licences. Specifically, they relate to the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands which are used to provide 3G and 4G in the UK.
We're not talking about a small rise here either, with EE's proposed fees rising from £15.6m to a whopping £107.1m. O2 and Vodafone's costs will rise from £15.6m to £83.1m, with Three seeing its fees increased from £8.3m to £35.7m. The increases are thought to be being pushed through by the Government to compensate for the lower-than-expected revenue generated by the recent 4G auctions.
Inevitably, somewhere down the line these cost increases will have to be passed onto consumers - presumably, by increasing the monthly cost of mobile tariffs. That's bound to lead to a huge backlash from 4G customers in particular, who already feel that the operators are overcharging for the service.
The situation could still change somewhat, because Ofcom need to consult with the mobile operators before the fee increases are finalised - and they are bound to do everything in their power to minimise the increases. Whatever the outcome you shouldn't expect any increase in your bills in the next couple of months, because it could be a year before the increased fees take effect.
We'll let you know as soon as we hear more from either the operators or Ofcom!
By Simon Thomas on 10th October, 2013