Channel Islands may have to wait for 4G mobile

Deputy Kevin Stewart Deputy Stewart said it was right to properly assess the situation

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It is likely to be another year before Channel Island residents and businesses can benefit from 4G mobile internet.

Guernsey Commerce and Employment Minister Deputy Kevin Stewart launched a review into how 4G services should be licensed.

He said the service was a scarce resource owned by the government so the possibility of charging had to be explored fully.

Ian Campbell, from Airtel Vodaphone, said the process was taking too long.

He said: "This is already an extremely expensive business to run, Jersey and Guernsey do not have the economies of scale that can be derived out of the UK. Any charge on top would inevitably result in higher charges for the customer."

Efficient use

Andrew Riseley, from the Channel Islands Competition Regulatory Authority, said island governments need to outline how they plan to balance the idea of charging for the services with the needs of small business.

He said: "The States of Guernsey recognises there is a tension between charging people to use spectrum [4G network] and the prospect of blocking out small entrants from these types of business.

"We are looking to the States of Guernsey and Jersey once they have finished spectrum planning for a policy direction on how they want to balance those competing objectives."

Deputy Stewart said the space to offer services was limited.

"If we don't use it efficiently we won't be able to take advantage of it and we will run out of space," he said.

"We are appointing a consultant to work alongside us, someone who is an expert in spectrum so we can look at how we can use it going forward."

There are also technical issues to work out as part of the roll-out, added Mr Riseley. He said they still needed to deal with conflicts with digital television and at the island's airports.

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