News Burst: Spectrum put up for auction

The government has announced radio spectrum auctions for third-generation mobile communications. Patricia Hewitt, minister for e-commerce, said there will be five licences available, with the largest block of channels reserved for a firm not currently associated with cellular operators.

The government has announced radio spectrum auctions for third-generation mobile communications. Patricia Hewitt, minister for e-commerce, said there will be five licences available, with the largest block of channels reserved for a firm not currently associated with cellular operators.

The auction will take place in March, with operators expecting to pay up to £500m per licence. The services will be part of the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS), providing up to 2Mbit/s to mobiles by 2004 and bringing broadband access to millions of mobile users.