Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/10/03/not_spot_coverage/

Osborne proffers £150m for mobile not spots

Of your money, of course, not his

By Bill Ray

Posted in Mobile, 3rd October 2011 10:08 GMT

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has promised £150m to provide better mobile coverage in the UK, 'cos that's just what we need to stimulate the economy.

Talking on The Today show this morning the Chancellor promised a freeze on council tax while vowing to invest in developing applications for the miracle material graphene, but on TV he also promised to find £150m in spare cash to spend on building up the mobile phone networks to cover the UK's remaining not spots.

Quite how that money will be fed into the industry isn't clear. The details won't come until Osborne addresses the Conservative Party conference this morning, so we won't know how the money's going to get divvied up until then.

It seems the money will go via Ofcom, but the regulator is hardly placed to start building networks. Handing the money over to the operators would be the easiest way, but almost certainly fall foul of EU law on government subsidies, not to mention raising justifiable complaints about tax money going to help profitable companies.

Paying for infrastructure that could then be shared would make more sense, so perhaps Arqiva will be the beneficiary. Arqiva already runs more than 16,000 transmitter sites in the UK, available for rent at reasonable rates, so it would be the logical partner, but we'll have to wait and see. We're promised they'll be more details announced later today, which should give us a better idea of when we can expect to get better national mobile coverage, and from whom. ®