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Friday, 5 May, 2000, 09:31 GMT 10:31 UK
How should we spend the mobile windfall?

The UK government has netted 22.47bn ($35.4bn) from the auction for next-generation mobile phone licences.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Finance Minister), Gordon Brown, has said that the money will be used to reduce the national debt.

Some people have suggested that the money would be better spent on things like improving public transport, education and the National Health Service. Do you think the Chancellor is being tight-fisted? Tell us how you think we should spend the mobile windfall.

HAVE YOUR SAY When will these idiots learn? You shouldn't give the windfall money to declining industries. If they are having problems it is probably because they are rubbish. The sooner they go to the wall and let better companies take over, the better.
Andrew, England

The money should be given back to the mobile phone operators. In other countries governments are investing in telecommunications infrastructure, enabling businesses to take advantages of the facilities they offer. As usual the UK government is only interested in the short-term gain for themselves without looking at the bigger picture.
Alan, Denmark



I'm glad to see that the Labour Government will waste this windfall like the Tories did with the privatisation money from many years ago.

Alastair Robertson, Scotland
I'm glad to see that the Labour Government will waste this windfall like the Tories did with the privatisation money from many years ago. Split the money out evenly to all taxpayers, after all who owns the radio waves? Next on the agenda will be licences issued for selling the air that we breathe.
Alastair Robertson, Scotland

It's probably worth saving to bail out the companies that got carried away with the bidding. They are never going to make this money back before the next fad comes along, which will cost them again!
Duncan Drury, UK

How reassuring to find this type of discussion underway. In many parts of the world, in countries with very different political cultures from that of Western Europe, large sums of state revenue would simply disappear into the hands of the politicians.
Alan, Egypt

To Eddie from the USA; by paying of our national debt we will pay off the enormous loans we took out to fund WWII and the rebuilding afterwards. I think you Americans have had enough off us already!
Simon Atkinson, UK



Why not waste the money on another Millennium Dome or something that is not required by the population.

Laki Singh, UK
Why not waste the money on another Millennium Dome or something that is not required by the population. This present government does not know how to handle money but they try and extort so much from the population.
Laki Singh, UK

Mobile phone frequencies are a licence to print money for the operators. So selling them for what the operators think they are worth is obviously reasonable. And, as has been pointed out by other, paying off the national debt will free some 2bn a year for spending increases or tax cuts. Tax cuts would be inflationary, so I'd like to see the money (the 2bn, not the 23bn) used for carefully targeted non-inflationary spending.
Karl, UK

I know, let's use it to develop portable screens to protect us yet more microwave radiation!
Harry, Germany



I suggest that Gordon Brown sends a cheque for 22 billion to me. The nation would then benefit enormously from the trickle-down effect of my spending.

Kris Klein, UK
I'm glad, as a non-user, that the government has taxed mobile phone users by extorting these ludicrously high licence fees. I'm not so glad that the government has nothing more constructive to do than pay off the national debt. British industry needs a massive investment injection to ensure that it is better armed to survive the current high level of the pound.
Michael Kilpatrick, Cambridge, UK

I suggest that Gordon Brown sends a cheque for 22 billion to me. The nation would then benefit enormously from the trickle-down effect of my spending.
Chris Klein, UK

Good job Mr Brown - if he said he'd spend it, it's amazing how many whingers would turn up demanding money. Paying off national debt will mean anyone requesting money later will be subject to the normal rigours of getting money at the tax-payers expense - the legitimate ones will get the funding they need when they really need it and the pointless/inefficient/not-meant-to-be-done-by-governments type tasks will get rejected (hopefully!)
Neil, UK

The money came from technology so it should go back in to Technology. We need more computers in schools, and in other areas of the community, it's the way forward and these skills are needed now!
Maxim Pichler-Tennenberg, UK

Why not divide up the money amongst everyone in the country. I have plenty of debt I could repay.
Peter Robinson, England



Is the money that they got extra money that they should use for their own enjoyment, or is it money that they should use to pay down their debt?

Dave, USA
If someone is deep in personal debt and has no plan of how to pay the money they owe and they win some money what should they do? Is the money that they got extra money that they should use for their own enjoyment, or is it money that they should use to pay down their debt?
Dave, USA

Use it to upgrade homes for the elderly so they don't die of cold - and generally improve the housing stock so our poor don't live in squalor.
Nige, UK

I believe that the government should use 50-60% of the revenue from the mobile auction on the national debt as it is important in the long run. However some of the money should be used in education and declining industries.
Pete, Wales

Part of the windfall should go towards the Rover car company. It will be a small price to pay for keeping 50,000 off the dole queue. Some of it should also be spent on giving the pensioners a decent increase.
Lesley, United Kingdom

A wise investor should always pay off their debts before spending.
Daniel Macey, United Kingdom



If you want to save manufacturing the money should be spent on Euro assets to depress the price of the pound.

Derry, UK
Those people advocating that the money should be spent, including saving Rover, are fooling themselves. The more the government spends the more interest rates must rise to prevent inflation, and so the higher the pound will go. If you want to save manufacturing the money should be spent on Euro assets to depress the price of the pound.
Derry, UK

How about rewarding everyone who is working to keep this economy prosperous by a one-off tax-free allowance extension of 3000 - thus handing everyone around 700 extra cash. Also this would be given after the next general election, thus not to be seen as a bribe.
Spending it on anything else, such as the black holes of health, education and benefits would be criminally wasteful. We all know that paying off some of the national debt is another way for the Chancellor to increase spending before the next election - he certainly will not make any real tax cuts.
James Denning, UK

The government should not spend the money at all. It should not even have the money. The auction was a mistaken idea in the first place. This vast tax will raise the price of mobile phone services to such an extent that the UK will fall behind more intelligent countries that allocate their wavebands to those who offer the lowest prices/best service. The government should restart the process on this basis before it is too late.
James Macdonald, USA (ex-UK)



Just think of the difference this money could make in the 3rd World countries? Robin Hood had the right idea!

C Hayford, UK
What is wrong with all of you people? Stop complaining about the government and whether or not they should have got this money. At the end of the day, if you are wealthy enough to be able to afford a mobile phone - a few extra pounds on your bill isn't going to make a great deal of difference.
However, just think of the difference this money could make in the 3rd World countries? Robin Hood had the right idea! And just for the record - I am a mobile user!
C Hayford, UK



Gordon Brown is not a stupid as some people might think.

Matthew Redden, UK
It should be used to pay off the national debt. As a political decision there is no choice, as the Conservatives would otherwise accuse Labour of political theft. Spending the money would only lead to higher inflation, therefore higher interest rates and lower investment.
Paying the debts would put the UK plc (particularly government) in a stronger position and therefore could lead to the continued rise in the pound. This rise in the pound would keep inflation low enabling lower interest rates, greater investment, higher growth and greater tax revenue.
This tax revenue could be used to reduce tax in e-commerce related activities and help make the UK a leading centre for e-commerce. Gordon Brown is not a stupid as some people might think.
Matthew Redden, UK

I think the government should use some of the money to save Rover from closure. I think it is disgusting that the government will not do this , and to talk about paying of national debt with thousands of jobs in danger is obscene when a tenth of this capital could save British manufacturing.
Martin Elliott, Britain



You can't ignore the national debt - the interest payments suck money away from the hospitals and schools.

David Butler, Australia
We are turned into a nation watching gladiators while Rome decays. If the government plays to the galleries then the money will be wasted on grandiose schemes like the Dome. Let us not let the government do that! Health, Education and Crime DEMAND that money.
Dr Bhogal, UK

They might consider loaning some dosh to Tottenham Hotspur-interest free. Other than that Spurs are headed for another mediocre season. Seriously though, there's no reason why they can't use half of the money on the national debt and a good portion of the rest to encourage research and development in UK business/industries. You can't ignore the national debt - the interest payments suck money away from the hospitals and schools. At the same time you need to keep an eye to the future. Business success will also result in increased tax revenue.
David Butler, Australia

It's happened again, the government has ripped off another market place, 22.5 billion for frequencies they don't even own? This is just crazy, and ultimately, it will be the consumer who will pay, ie. increased line rental cost on mobile tariffs etc. We in the UK are subject to the highest taxes in the world, including paying 85% in tax on petrol. Surely the British public cannot go on being ripped off like this!!
Yunus, UK

If Labour use this money on the NHS or public transport, what happens when the money runs out in a few years time? There will be better services, but with no money to keep them going.
Matthew Chinery, UK

Why is it that when the government has spare money to spend, they never to do anything good with it like improving local communities and equipping them with better leisure facilities. If all our communities had better health facilities such as gyms, tennis courts, then the NHS wouldn't have to spend as much as more people would be getting exercise!
Ross, UK

As a one-off windfall the money should be used for a "one-off" purpose. The NHS needs sustained funding; there is little point in building a hospital you can't maintain for example. The National Debt would be logical, as it costs money each year on the interest payments. The analogy is winning a small lottery prize: do you pay off your mortgage or have a luxury holiday?
Richard Gregory, UK

The money that the Chancellor raised is just a SALES TAX. A reduction in VAT would be the best recompense.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

Take a 40% stake in Rover/Phoenix (like the French State in Renault) to enable it to purchase both Land Rover and Mini before it is too late. For the rescue bid to have any chance of being viable the best pickings in Rover must not be allowed to go elsewhere.
Jeff Taylor, France

The UK will pay the price in the long-run as the high cost of the technology will mean that it gets left behind in the move to a wireless digital world.
Paul Stancer, Hong Kong

You can use it to pay back the United States for the loss of its soldiers in two of your stupid European wars!!
Eddie, USA

The UK government is spending a lot of time and money developing the Internet for everyone. The 22bn gained from this licence auction should be used to develop this. The Internet will soon be available on mobile phones so the money should be used for their development also.
Norman Horobin, England

I think it's high time the UK owned up to its responsibility to its erstwhile colonies. A billion pounds would go a long way to solve some of the problems in Africa (especially). Besides, we are still talking of debt forgiveness. Some of this extra cash could be used for this!
Femi Ogundimu, Nigeria

We are informed the UK has the highest crime rate in European Union - a result of a grossly under-resourced and demoralised police force. Of far higher priority than the national debt must be the national crime rate and the urgent rebuilding of both the nation's police force and public confidence in them. This must be accompanied by an urgent overhaul of the justice system and those who administer it - they do not serve well the law abider. This is the area where Gordon Brown should be targeting his windfall.
Robert, Wales

What a waste! The desiccated human calculating machines that run HM Treasury are allowed to let this windfall soak away into the National Debt payments. Instead it should have been ring-fenced to restore the NHS. However I expected no better of this Phoney New Labour Government, trying to out-Thatcher the Tories.
Steve Foley, England



Thank God we now have a government that can actually privatise properly.

Tom, UK
Thank God we now have a government that can actually privatise properly. The real question is not how the Labour government managed to make so much money from the mobile auction, but how the Tories managed to make so little when they sold off the British people's electricity, gas, water and the railways.
Tom, UK



If interest paid out on the debt falls, so do our pensions.

Andrew Levens, UK
Yes, it is a tax, and as money collected from consumers will go to the exchequer, and not circulate round the economy, its effect will be deflationary unless the government spends it. Also, who lends to the national debt? We do, through pension funds. If interest paid out on the debt falls, so do our pensions.
Andrew Levens, UK

No question, part of the windfall should go to counselling of habitually annoying mobile phone users to GET A LIFE.
Peter Kohler, USA

A labour Chancellor makes 35 billion in one hit, that beats the hell out of the Tory one who lost 7 billion in one day. He should spend as he and the government see fit. How about 17.5 billion each way on Amethyst for the 1000gns at Newmarket!
Derek, ex-pat, Brazil

I understand the Royal Navy could do with some helicopters...
Dom, UK

I believe Gordon Brown is right to use the money to reduce the national debt. This in turn will reduce the burden on tax payers who are at the moment financing such a debts. At 6% pa, such debt equals to 2.1 billion dollars a year. Question is... what will Gordon Brown spend that 2.1 billion dollars on.
Darren Warberg, UK

This is just a tax on mobile phones. However, for once the Government is doing something sensible with the money, even if it should not have had it in the first place.
Jim Turner, UK



With even half of this money, the tube could be saved.

Mike, UK
As a non-mobile phone user, I don't particularly care about any perceived tax on the existing users. I do want the Government to use the part of this windfall now. It says we can't afford to invest in public transport and therefore need the private sector to do it for us.
With even half of this money, the tube could be saved, all the bus lanes you want could be installed, cycle only routes could be provided and new light rail services constructed in major towns around the country.
Mike, UK

First, its not a windfall. The government got this by "selling" something it didn't own. Spending it on reducing the national debt is probably the sensible thing to do if for no other reason than spending it on anything else just creates an expectation to do the same next year, and that just means more and more taxes.
Dan Peters, UK

Equip buses and trains with a cabinet labelled "Break Glass in Case of Loud Mobile User" that contains a handy wooden mallet...
Ash W, London, UK



A good proportion of this money should go towards creating a police force we can once again be proud of.

Margaret Jean Lees, UK
I feel very strongly that the National Health Service, more particularly the hospitals should receive a large proportion of the windfall. And also we the public no longer feel safe in our homes and in the street and walk-ways in our area - the Police of this country were at one time the best. There are now financial constraints causing a reduction in rural policing, closing down rural police stations putting the public at risk. A good proportion of this money should go towards creating a police force we can once again be proud of.
Margaret Jean Lees, West Yorkshire, UK

Now Alchemy has pulled out UK PLC should take a 49% stake in a knock down Rover, Phoenix et al could take the remainder with an option to buy the other 49, get Honda back on board - sort it out, make a nice little profit for HMG and get those heartlands blasting the Red Flag once more :)
Gary, UK

The money should be used to expand the existing motorways and improve the rail networks.
A Mudiganti, UK



All the government has done is indirectly taxed a part of the population to the sum of 35billion. Thanks Tony.

Graeme, England
How do people think these companies are going to recoup this unbelievably huge amount of money? From us, the consumer. All the government has done is indirectly taxed a part of the population to the sum of 35billion. Thanks Tony, it's about time you came clean and announced that "dolly" wasn't the first clone, but Thatcher was.
Graeme, England



It should be clear that this money is a windfall for the taxpayers of the UK, and not a personal jackpot win for Gordon Brown.

Andrew, UK
I really can't understand how people can be so dense. They complain "the government" will get this money, and it's a hidden tax. And what does the government do with this money - it runs the country with it, providing services that the inhabitants of the UK want, and often demand.
It should be clear that this money is a windfall for the taxpayers of the UK, and not a personal jackpot win for Gordon Brown. Anyone who feels sorry that the poor naive telecom companies have been ripped off by the nasty government need to have a severe reality check!
Andrew, UK

Gordon Brown should use the windfall to reduce income tax just before the next general election, thus ensuring a second term of Government for Labour. Hmm doesn't that sound just a little bit familiar?
Callum Rodgers, England



Some cash should be use to cut 3rd World Debt, some to cut our debts but most should got to the NHS and schools.

JI, Scotland
I am sure that the pen pushers will find some creative way to hide all this cash and show how wonderful the current government is. Some cash should be use to cut 3rd World Debt, some to cut our debts but most should got to the NHS and schools. Public Transport can get lost as that's all private and they make enough profit already.
JI, Scotland

I think it should be spent on a huge party in London. Free drink all night.
Paul Marshall, England



The Government should use some of it to fund an ongoing programme to investigate the alleged health risks of the phones.

Simon Grossman, UK
I think the money raised should be used to pay for things which are relevant to mobile phones. Most obviously, the Government should use some of it to fund an ongoing programme to investigate the alleged health risks of the phones (which incidentally most sane people seem to agree are non-existent).
But they should also use it to increase mobile phone use/access amongst the less well-off, in the same way as they are funding PCs/internet access in certain schools, libraries, council estates etc. If this new mobile internet technology is expensive to start with, it seems vital no-one should be excluded from the benefits, just because they can't afford it. I guess that's called redistribution of wealth!
Simon Grossman, UK



The losers will be the vast majority of normal mobile users who will ultimately end up subsidising the WAP users

Matthew, England
25 billion is far too much for these frequencies, and the losers will be the vast majority of normal mobile users who will ultimately end up subsidising the WAP users. Apart from the government, Vodafone will probably be the biggest winner out of all of this as they can now demand a huge premium when they sell Orange to the gaggle of companies wishing to cash in on the UK mobile phone market. I just hope that the govt. don't use the cash frivolously, and spend it on something useful. Debt repayment is all well and good, but with inflation low could they not spend some money to build up the NHS or pay for police officers?
Matthew Illsley, England

Who cares? They give you brain tumours anyway. If I wanted that much radiation being blasted in my brain, I'd shove a plutonium rod in my ear! Stick to normal telephones I say and hell with mobile phones.
Robert Young, London UK

They have spent billions for the right to provide the service. Consumers will pay for their use of it. Including a profit percentage.
David Wharmby, Canada

The government will first auction the licences with high fees. The operators will charge all those fees to the users. The government will tax the operators for the profit they made on the users and the operators will add that tax on the prices to the users.
mikko toivonen, finland



This is yet another hidden tax that the people of Britain will be paying long after this Government has left power.

Rob, UK
Rip-off Britain is run by a Rip-off Government. This is yet another hidden tax that the people of Britain will be paying long after this Government has left power.
Rob, UK

One of the contributors mentioned that TIW have no customer base/infrastructure - that is wrong. TIW already operate a TETRA network in this country called Dolphin which is mainly designed for business users. So in fact, all the companies who have won already have a presence in the UK market. I expect 3rd generation mobile prices to be expensive to begin with (Just like Cellnet/Vodafone) back in the day. Eventually prices will come down. The excessive licence costs will just mean less of the "fat cat" profits.
Harry Raiser, UK



If these private companies don't pay the going rate for what they buy, then it's the taxpayer who is being ripped-off.

Tom, UK
The talk about extortion by the government is rubbish. There is only a limited supply of band-length, so it's natural that it should go to the highest bidder. The people who complain today about the mobiles auction are probably the same who complained about the railways being sold off too cheaply. The fact is, if these private companies don't pay the going rate for what they buy, then it's the taxpayer who is being ripped-off.
Tom, UK

It seems amazingly silly for one bit of the DTi to be telling communication companies to reduce the cost of access to the Internet while another is making it as expensive as possible for mobile users.
John, UK



Those who "must have" the very latest wireless/internet connectivity should pay the higher rentals.

Graham Doubtfire, UK
My concern is that existing owners of mobiles who are perfectly happy with the service currently available end up subsidising those who want the very latest in technology. Those who "must have" the very latest wireless/internet connectivity should pay the higher rentals. There must be no cross-subsidy.
Graham Doubtfire, UK

People should be clear that they will pay the $35 billion extorted by a government who had no right of ownership over those frequencies anyway. There are no two ways about it, the government basically said "if you want these frequencies you must buy from us or we'll stop your operation". A simple racket worthy of any gangster.
Gordon Joseph, UK



To begin with costs are bound to be high but as competition takes hold and subscriber volumes increase prices should fall.

John, UK
The consumer will pay but will have the choice to say yes or no. However the new technology will enable more and more people to give up their fixed lines (home telephones) and simply live with a mobile wherever they may be. With fast internet access, many new subscribers will be able to enjoy the benefits of the net without having to invest in a computer. To begin with costs are bound to be high but as competition takes hold and subscriber volumes increase prices should fall.
John, UK

Firstly, as a electronics engineer let me take this opportunity to inform the public that these new phones and some systems presently in use are more dangerous to the health, i.e. it is a fully digital transmission system. The old analogue transmission systems were safer. Without any doubt, the customer will pay for silly, eye damaging services like surfing the net on a tiny screen, technology always brings a plus and a minus point.
Krishan Canagasabey, Ceylon Tamil-UK

The mobile phone companies have got to get their money back somehow - looks like the only thing that will happen is that the bills will increase and Blair will probably waste the money for short term political gain for the next election.
Stu, UK

It remains to be seen if five networks can survive, four will. TIW is brave - no customer base nor any infrastructure. Vodafone and BT can easily pay for the License, as they are large companies. Deutsche Telekom can bankroll One to One and so can the new owner of Orange. As Orange has won a license, Vodafone will be get more money in disposing Orange.
In view of national resentment the govt. should consider putting a small proportion of the receipts (half of which they will receive this year) to improve the infrastructure, road improvements in towns and county and public transport in our major cities, to reduce traffic congestion and business costs.
Tony linden, United Kingdom

I personally think NTL have made the correct decision. They have realised that a much more viable (and less expensive) option will be to buy a company that has today won a licence.
David, UK

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