Mobile operators team up to press for TV spectrum

Mobile phone giants, including O2 and Vodafone, have been holding “informal” talks over lobbying the Government and Ofcom about licensing spectrum to broadcast television over mobile phones.

The telecom operators believe the need to license spectrum for mobile TV is “so pressing” that they are prepared to work together. They fear that unless Ofcom moves faster to respond to their concerns, the UK faces losing the lead in mobile technology.

At least one European country is said to launching a full commercial mobile broadcast service next year. But in the UK, Ofcom is unlikely to review the current guidelines until 2006, with the necessary spectrum not auctioned off until at least 2008.

Speaking at the launch of a mobile television trial in Oxford last week, O2 chief technology officer Dave Williams said: “I would like Ofcom to move earlier on licensing spectrum. The technology is here and it works.”

He says mobile operators will work together because spectrum is likely to be shared between them, as the costs involved in buying digital “channels” each would be too high and unnecessary.

The mobile operator and Oxford trial partner, transmission company Arqiva (formerly NTL Broadcast) jointly petitioned Ofcom over the summer. Nokia is the third partner in the six-month trial.

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