HC Deb 06 May 1999 vol 330 c444W
Mr. Pearson

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress towards issuing licences under the Wireless Telegraphy Act for operators of third-generation mobile communications networks. [83794]

Mr. Wills

Following extensive consultation and careful consideration the Government have decided to offer five third-generation licences by means of auction. The licences will comprise three of (2x10)+5MHz, one of 2x15MHz and one of (2x15)+5MHz. The largest will be reserved for a new entrant. It believes that this will most effectively allow the benefits of third-generation to the UK economy and consumers to be realised. In particular, it is convinced that these benefits are most likely to be maximised by encouraging market entry and competition.

The Director General of Telecommunications will shortly issue for statutory consultation draft amendments to existing public mobile operators' Telecommunications Act licences which are intended to provide any new entrants with the right to roam onto at least one second generation mobile network.

The Government continue to expect that, subject to market and other developments and to final decisions nearer the time, the auction will take place in the second half of the financial year 1999 –2000.