CWU calls for spectrum auction cash to be spent on broadband
Ofcom outlined plans earlier this week for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz airwave bands to be sold off in the first quarter of 2012 in a bid to help carriers cope with the rapid increase in popularity of mobile data services such as video streaming, email and instant messaging.
Demand for spectrum is likely to be high, with Strategy Analytics telecoms analyst Phil Kendall telling Mobile Today that non-mobile companies - such as BT, Sky and Virgin Media - could be tempted to lodge bids.
Network operators 3 Mobile, Everything Everywhere, O2 and Vodafone will also be keen to secure as much of the newly-freed up spectrum as possible.
As a result, the sell-off is expected to contribute a substantial amount of money to government coffers. The 3G auction that took place in 2000 raised approximately £20 billion and the CWU believes an additional £4 billion or more could be generated by the upcoming sale.
It has argued this cash would be best spent on next-generation broadband.
The body warned the £830 million of funding pledged by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is "insufficient" to bring fast internet access to all parts of the country.
In particular, remote areas in places such as Cumbria, East Anglia and Scotland currently have no rollout plans, pointed out Andy Kerr, deputy general secretary of the CWU.
Other developed nations have also committed far larger amounts to their broadband rollout programmes, the organisation noted.
Mr Kerr urged the administration to "seize this opportunity" and use the money as a "welcome windfall" for the UK's broadband future.
He added: "We believe that a government-led programme of investment in super-fast broadband infrastructure is essential to prevent the UK slipping behind our European and global competitors.
"Early investment in universal broadband will pay dividends many times over so we urge swift action to put the UK at the head of the super-fast broadband revolution."