18 May 2007
When mobile phone firms paid billions for a
licence to run a third-generation (3G) network in 2000, they could
console themselves with the knowledge that the network was theirs and
In the UK the auction of those 3G licences raised
Â£22.47bn and, at a stroke, gave the winners of the licences a de facto
monopoly on futuristic phone services.
To offset the high cost of buying a licence and building
the network, operators knew that, for the 20-year term of that licence,
they had control over any and every customer they could persuade to
As the numbers turning to 3G are climbing, those mobile
networks could be forgiven for thinking that it was only a matter of
time before they started recouping the considerable capital cost of
buying and building that network.