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EE could scale back its investment in rural 4G mobile broadband networks if government intervention leads to increased expenditure and reduced revenues.

Speaking to the Guardian, EE's Chief Executive Olaf Swantee said the company may have to reconsider its rollout plans if spectrum rental costs increase significantly and mobile phone charges are capped.

The government is attempting to empower consumers by making it easier to quit phone and broadband contracts, while also limiting bills incurred on lost and stolen phones.

Plans have also been unveiled to stop service providers charging for mobile calls to freephone 0800 numbers, and adding high premiums to calls from abroad.

At the same time, the government is planning to increase the amount it charges broadband providers to rent spectrum.

EE currently pays £25 million per year for the spectrum it uses to deliver voice and data services, but under proposals outlined by Ofcom, this could increase to £107 million.

Mr Swantee said it will be "harder" to maintain the current rollout of 4G mobile broadband services if the changes go ahead.

"Something has to give in terms of the investment," he stated.

"We will be forced to re-evaluate our 98 per cent coverage target for the end of next year, and sparsely populated rural areas are, as we all know, at risk the most."

Kip Meek, Public Policy Director at EE, said the service provider is looking to avoid passing the costs onto consumers.

"We are very anxious to persuade Ofcom that their current licence fee proposals need to come down," he stated.

An Ofcom spokesperson said the regulator is awaiting EE's response to the public consultation on proposed licence fees.

"Mobile operators have known since 2010 that the licence fees would be revised to reflect full market value," the representative stated.

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