eBay plans to use next years 4G auction to its advantage, asking Ofcom to keep spectrum prices low to boost operator competition and improve service, hopefully leading to increased smartphone activity on its site.

Mobile data has already become an expensive commodity, with operators charging significant amounts for relatively small allowances. eBay is concerned that "frustrations" consumers have with current data costs could worsen when 4G hits, with operators charging even more for the improved service. This in turn will lead to what the auction site believes could be an estimated 1.3 billion in missed out revenue.

Coverage is crucial to eBay's argument, the site pushing Ofcom to focus closely on getting 4G to everyone so that they can focus on building sales across the country. What eBay calls mobile commerce "not spots" are areas where data costs and coverage are persuading shoppers to buy elsewhere.

One of eBay's biggest concerns is that if Ofcom sets 4G spectrums too high, operators will want a percentage of mobile sales to make up for the network costs. Ofcom is to use old television frequencies to make up the newly set out 4G spectrum and plans to auction them off in 2012. It will be one of the largest auctions the regulator has ever carried out and could determine the future of many of Britain's mobile networks. Ofcom hopes to keep operator competition by capping how much spectrum can be bought, something which undoubtedly will have put Three's mind at rest, who lost out to the other major networks.

eBay has created a map which shows network coverage deduced from eBay mobile use. It displays areas which have very little activity on the auction site, and as predicted they all have very little mobile coverage.

Fancy a bit of 4G? or 3G good enough? Let us know...

Hunter Skipworth

The baby of the Lint team, Hunter has been a tech fan since he bought his first MiniDisc..and what a waste of money that was. He began writing about electronics at the age of 16 and hasn't stopped since. Nowadays he fulfils his mobile phone and gaming obsession whilst attempting to distract people from his bizarre name. Regular meetings with the Gladiators crew see Hunter often returning to work battered and bruised. Considers himself a music obsessive, was once the most highly decorated scout in the country. Fan of trousers.

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