Broadband plan to replace Digital Dividend auction

The much touted sale of spectrum released through the Digital Dividend could be abandoned under proposals being considered by the communications minister Lord Carter.

Companies could now be gifted spectrum within the UHF bands in return for a commitment to providing high speed broadband access. The suggestion comes in the latest leak of Lord Carterís interim digital dividend report, released to The Sunday Times, and scheduled for publication on January 26. A change in emphasis to drive public policy saves the government from potential embarrassment should companies choose to make lower bids in the light of current economic circumstances.

It was previously envisaged that a spectrum auction under the auspices of regulator Ofcom might raise the exchequer close to £5 billion.

The Digital Britain Report will also look at the future of Channel 4, the publicly owned broadcaster whose future is looking increasingly uncertain, with the possibility of a merger with either Five or BBC Worldwide under discussion.