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BT may take legal action over gov't broadband plans

The company may seek a court review of government spectrum plans designed to extend 3G broadband coverage
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

BT has said it may apply for a judicial review of government mobile broadband spectrum plans.

A BT spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the company had sent a letter to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), objecting to proposals to make existing 3G licences indefinite, and to allow greater infrastructure sharing in rural areas.

The proposals, put forward by Independent Spectrum Broker Kip Meek in May, are designed to extend mobile broadband coverage.

"BT has major reservations around the wireless spectrum proposals from the Independent Spectrum Broker," the BT spokesperson said. "The proposal to extend current 3G licences indefinitely represents a gift of several billion pounds from the UK taxpayer to the mobile operators and is a barrier to competition and innovation in the mobile market."

The letter stated that should the government proposals go ahead in their current form, BT would seek a judicial review, as the company has "serious concerns" over the plans, BT's spokesperson said. "We are discussing our concerns with BIS and are hopeful that these will be addressed."

A BIS spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that it had extended a consultation on the Independent Spectrum Broker's proposals, and that the BIS would not want to prejudge the outcome of the consultation.

"We have received a letter from BT," the spokesperson said. "Our consultation over a proposed direction to Ofcom on spectrum matters is ongoing and BT, like any other interested party, is welcome to comment on the government's proposed plans."

Ofcom said in February that it would consult on proposals in Lord Carter's Digital Britain report designed to boost available spectrum and ensure universal broadband access.

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