Graeme Wearden from ZDNet UK has reported that the forthcoming 3.4GHz frequency licence auction will start accepting bids as low as £100,000 for a region. London, The North and Midlands will have a higher starting price of £300,000.
Obviously as it is a bidding competition the prices may go much higher, but a low start price bodes well for an area where the startup costs are the biggest hurdle currently. Hopefully no one will act as a spoiler in the bidding process, e.g. buy licences for an area just to then sit on it and not rollout a service in the area. This lack of service obligation is designed to encourage companies to take part, but it also means we may end up with companies dragging their feet over rollout. So fingers crossed that a sensible service will result from the process this time.
The whole process takes place in May, so it seems do not expect too much to be happening until a lot later in 2003.
One of the existing wireless arenas that is expanding is the use of 802.11b commercial hotspots. BT are involved in this via BTOpenZone, and thanks to www.ispreview.co.uk for highlighting that BT are adding another 80 hot spots to the service. Though looking at the pricing it is not that attractive for home users near a hotspot, £20/month for 300 minutes and then 15 pence per minute after that. Apparently an unmetered package is available £85/month. The pricing may be reasonable for business users, where time is money and time spent sitting in airports is wasted time, but for normal mortals that seems a bit too much.
Finally ZDNet has a nice list of the various wireless hotspots around the UK, for a number of operators. The maps and listings can be seen here.
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