It's twelve months now since frenzied bidding for the UK's third-generation mobile licences resulted in an unexpected cash injection of £22.5bn into the nation's coffers. While Chancellor Gordon Brown is pretty clear where the money the government has collected is going -- paying off the national debt -- mobile companies, industry experts and the government are less sure what the value of the year-old licenses is.
The received wisdom is that the mobile industry paid far too much in the UK, and in other European countries such as Germany. Critics point to the additional costs of actually building a network and marketing the exciting services that will be available. Latest estimates put the bill for rolling out 3G in Britain alone at £50bn.
The European Commission is so worried about the possibility that the growth of mobile Internet services will be crippled by financial woes that it has suggested operators share networks, a suggestion that has so far been rejected by national governments.
So, is 3G a disaster for the mobile sector? Some analysts think so, but other groups are more confident. After all, if the prediction that annual revenues from third generation mobile phone services will be greater than £200bn per year by 2010 is accurate, a 3G network could yet be a very profitable thing to own.
3G industry at odds with governments
Mon, 30 Apr Network operators want to cut costs and share 3G infrastructure. But the cost could be competition and quality of service 3G to net over £200bn annually by 2010
Thu, 26 Apr Survey suggests £200bn annual revenue from 3G - could licence buyers be in luck after all 3G licensees face new cash crunch
Wed, 25 Apr Next-generation wireless services will bring in paltry revenues for next four years, says report Government continues to deny secret 3G talks
Tue, 24 Apr Newspapers keep claiming that officials are going to help out the mobile companies, but the official line remains that discussions simply aren't taking place Don't expect 3G until 2004
Thu, 05 Apr So says ex-Orange boss. But while he believes the money spent on 3G will eventually prove worthwhile the chairman of Sony is not so sure Future of 3G now lies in doubt
Sun, 01 Apr Operators are unlikely ever to see a return on their £22bn licences 3G concept devices: Breathtaking but two years off
Fri, 23 Mar Manufacturers have been thrilling the CeBIT crowds with their ideas for futuristic 3G kit. Don't expect to see any of it in your local Dixons any time soon though 3G: The great wireless mystery
Mon, 05 Mar It's supposedly the greatest thing since sliced bread, but no one - not even the industry cognoscenti - knows for certain when, or where, the next generation of wireless will arrive. Or maybe it's here already? The Road to 3G
Wed, 23 Aug ZDNet maps out the 'Road to 3G', a series of reports investigating the technologies, the standards, the devices, the services, and the likely winners and losers in the 3G mobile revolution. Mobile auctions at a glance
Tue, 02 May The 3G mobile telecom auction winners How can you get access to information and entertainment from just about anywhere? Find out with ZDNet UK's Mobile Technology Special. Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum. Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.