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Radio auction set for October

Reserve set for £78 million but it'll make a lot more

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UK e-commerce minister Kim Howells has opened the door for bidders for the first set of radio spectrum auctions. The 42 licences (three each for 14 different regions of the UK) will enable point-to-point Internet access. The government, unsurprisingly, has gone for the same auction process that produced £22.5 billion for the Treasury in the recent 3G mobile licences - a process that "provides a fast, transparent, fair and economically efficient way of allocating the scarce resource of radio spectrum". And wodges of cash.

A total reserve price of £78.3 million has been set for the spectra, ranging from £4 million for London to £100,000 in Northern Ireland (the 3G auctions had a reserve of just £1 billion). A "use it or lose it" clause has been put into the process to ensure that winning bidders roll out services within in a fair timespan. The auction start date for the 15-year licences has been set for 16 October - set back from its initial August launch. ®

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