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The UK's mobile broadband providers are bracing themselves for a licence fee hike, as the government looks to increase radio spectrum revenues.

EE, O2, Vodafone and Three are set to face a combined fee rise of £159 million per year, under the latest Ofcom proposals.

The government has asked the communications regulator to reassess the prices paid for 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum.

At present, the four mobile operators pay £64.4 million per year; a figure that would increase to £223.3 million in total.

Back in October 2013, it proposed raising licence fees by £245 million per year; a figure that was lowered to £185 million in August 2014 following complaints from the industry.

Ofcom has again revised the figure following negotiations between the government and mobile operators on network sharing and nationwide coverage.

So it is expected that the £159 million annual increase will be the figure to stick.

Based upon current spectrum holdings, EE will be required to pay the most at £75.6 million per year. Vodafone and O2 will have to pay £61.2 million per year, while Three faces an annual charge of £25.2 million.

A spokesperson for EE said that while the operator "fully supports" the government’s work to get more coverage to more parts of UK, it is "disappointed" with the current proposal.

The representative claimed the move to increase spectrum fees fails to recognise the "obvious costs" associated with building the necessary infrastructure for mobile networks.

The spokesperson warned that this issues "could risk future network investment", noting that EE will examine Ofcom's current consultation on spectrum fees and respond in due course.

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