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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

License Sale Nets Britain $35.4Bln




LONDON -- Britain fetched a massive pounds 22.5 billion ($35.4 billion) Thursday when a marathon auction for new generation mobile telecom licenses ended with the withdrawal of British cable group NTL from the bidding.


The auction ended after 150 rounds and almost eight weeks. The five licenses will allow for fast mobile Internet access, video services and what operators hope will be large revenues.


The total cost of the licenses is more than seven times initial forecasts, and some British analysts say the companies are paying too much for access to the UMTS, or Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, technology in Britain.


Mobile phone giant Vodafone took license B, which offers the most capacity available to an existing British mobile operator, for pounds 5.96 billion.


British Telecommunications and Vodafone had been battling it out for license B for much of the auction, but analysts say Vodafone, with a large number of business customers, could extract more value from the extra capacity.


TIW UMTS, backed by Canada's Telesystem International Wireless and Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, will pay pounds 4.38 billion for license A - offering the most spectrum but reserved for a British newcomer.


TIW is a fast-growing global mobile communications operator with more than 2.7 million subscribers.


Existing British operators BT, One2One and Orange - set to be demerged from Vodafone this year - took narrower licenses C, D, and E respectively for just over four billion pounds each.


NTL, backed by heavyweight France Telecom, said it would withdraw after round 150 of the auction Thursday, which started with 13 companies.


"We entered the auction with a robust business plan. We still believe in that plan, but now [feel] that other strategies for achieving it offer higher and better rates for our stakeholders," NTL Mobile said in a statement.


"We wish the winners good luck in the future."