NAO to investigate Ofcom 4G auction

NAO to investigate Ofcom 4G auction

The 4G auction in the UK, which was run by Ofcom, took many years to complete and it seems the controversy is not over yet, as the National Audit Office (NAO) is set to investigate the process.

Seven successful bidders spent a total of £2.3 billion on acquiring spectrum to launch their own 4G services in the UK, but this was £1.2 billion less than had been predicted by the Treasury.

Amyas Morse, the auditor general at the NAO, wrote in a letter to Labour MP Helen Goodman, which was seen by the Guardian, that he intends to conduct a "value-for-money study" of the Ofcom auction.

The investigation comes on the back of complaints from Ms Goodman, who claimed that comments from Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards, had indicated that the government had not tried to maximise revenue from the sale of the spectrum.

She said: "By not making maximising the auction's revenue an objective for Ofcom, the government has failed to get value for money on this project."

Ms Goodman told The Guardian that she welcomed the investigation into the 4G auction and the reduced revenue it brought in.

"It is entirely right that the National Audit Office has launched this investigation. Serious questions must be answered as to why the Conservative-led government ended up £1 billion short of the estimate George Osborne had provided just months earlier. When the 3G auction took place, Labour ensured that maximising revenue was an objective. The Conservative-led government did not do the same for the 4G auction, which I believe was a serious mistake."

Vodafone was one of the winners in the bidding war and secured the airwaves needed to launch a 4G service to its customers, including business users, which will make mobile working even more efficient and productive.

The company has launched 4G services around the world recently and has plans to do the same in the UK in the summer, in a bid to improve its services and cope with the demand for mobile data.