Virgin 'one of many' lining up to bid for new mobile phone licence

Virgin ‘one of many’ lining up to bid for new mobile phone licence
Roy Rubenstein Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is just one of 50 companies lining up as potential bidders for one of the UK’s next generation mobile phone operator licences. TV and media companies including Reuters have also contacted Ericsson about using its new UK third generation mobile test facility. The scale of interest has surprised some observers and indicates the fierce competition that can be expected when five UMTS licenses go up for auction in the coming year. “The main interest has come from telecoms companies in the UK, Europe and the US,” said H?kan Enquist, Ericsson’s UMTS director at the centre. “But there is very serious interest from other business areas,” he added, citing media companies in TV, a satellite company and the likes of Reuters and Virgin. “Not all are likely to be serious but there will be heavy competition for the [UK’s UMTS] licences.” Claimed by Ericsson to be a world first, the WCDMA Centre was officially opened in Guildford last Friday. So far One2One is the only UK mobile phone operator to say it is using the test centre. However, according to Enquist “all the [UK’s] operators are involved”. Ericsson’s decision to base the test facility in the UK is due to its importance as “a centre for some of the most important global operators.” Enquist believes that Ericsson will also benefit from working with UK operators on third generation technology. “Testing the radio interface and applications in a practicable way and seeing what is possible will be very valuable for us,” he said. H?kan Enquist… “there will be heavy competition for the licences”

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