MPs have suggested that Everything Everywhere, the mobile network that was formed from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, should use the profit it will make from selling mobile spectrum to fund rural broadband. The company is required by the Office of Fair Trading to dispose of a quarter of the frequencies it uses for running its mobile network in the 1800MHz band as part of the terms of allowing the merger. Rules announced on Monday by Ofcom that will allow spectrum to be traded could see the company earning £450m for giving up these frequencies.
Tom Watson, a Labour MP and Ian Lucas, shadow minister for the digital economy have called for the money to be used to help deliver super-fast broadband to rural areas rather than going back to the company which may ultimately end up as dividends to shareholders.
"Do you think it is right that the government should give away a public asset to a private company that it then makes a surplus on? The British taxpayer is not getting any of the money but the French and German governments will."Tom Watson, MP
Everything Everywhere was given the spectrum for nothing by the government back in the 1990's and will clear nearly £300m of profit once spectrum rental fees have been paid. With the German and French governments as shareholders, these countries are likely to benefit more than we will here in the UK. Everything Everywhere disputed the benefit from selling the spectrum saying that it might end up at a net loss after adjusting its network to use other frequencies it owns.