Mobile operator EE has criticised Ofcom for significantly increasing the fees it will demand from operators to use British airwaves, claiming the decision is based on a "flawed approach", the Telegraph reports.
The Hertfordshire-based company said the price increase, which will see Ofcom draw in £199.6 million a year from charging Vodafone, O2, EE and Three to use mobile bandwidth, up from £64.4 million currently, raises the risk that operators will not be able to offer the best prices to customers.
Although the figure is slightly less than the £228.3 million Ofcom had previously suggested it would charge in February, the price hike does not factor in current market conditions, EE argues.
"We're also very disappointed that Ofcom has not reflected the higher costs we've taken on to meet enhanced coverage obligations that Ofcom and government encouraged us to accept," said an EE spokesman.
Despite the new fees being subject to a prolonged consultation period, EE's stance suggests it may have to raise prices in order to offset the added costs.
Under the new charges, Vodafone and O2 will see their fees more than treble from £15.6 million a year to £49.6 million. EE's charges will climb from £24.9 million to £75 million, while Three's bill will go from £8.3 million to £25 million.
However, Ofcom showed little sympathy for the operators, explaining that it listened carefully to their thoughts in order to determine the new fees.
"The mobile industry has not previously had to pay market value for access to this spectrum, which is a valuable and finite resource, and the new fees reflect that value," said Philip Marnick, Ofcom's group director of spectrum.