Ministers defend £1bn 4G auction shortfall
Ministers have defended the auction of 4G mobile phone licenses after it raised £1.2bn less than expected.
The auction brought in £2.3bn, rather than the £3.5bn that the Government had forecast. The total is also considerably less than the £22.5bn the Treasury raised at the 3G auction in 2000.
But Culture Secretary Maria Miller insisted there would still be a significant economic boost to the UK. "The benefits will been seen in the UK from the summer onwards as mobile operators deliver competitive high speed mobile broadband services," she said.
Meanwhile, Nick Clegg said the auction was not just about boosting the Government's coffers.
Speaking on LBC Radio, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "The sole purpose of the exercise was not simply raising revenue. It was to make sure in the long run we have a competitive economy, with access to these fantastic, high speed, 4G services across the country."
The winning bidders were Everything Everywhere; Hutchison 3G UK; Niche Spectrum Ventures, a BT subsidiary; Telefonica (O2); and Vodafone.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards this morning defended the auction, and said the regulator was not instructed to "maximise revenue".
“Nothing went wrong, because we never had an objective of maximising or raising revenue. It wasn’t the objective we were set by the Government, and it wasn’t our aim in the auction," Mr Richards told BBC Radio 5live.
"We were aiming to secure a different set of goals. And those goals were a competitive market, widespread availability, and the efficient allocation of this spectrum. I think the auction has successfully delivered those objectives."