The expected call of a general election in the UK this week could delay plans to liberalise the UK airwaves, causing a potential 'capacity crunch' in Britain's mobile phone broadband network, rendering smartphones such as Apple's iPhone and BlackBerries almost useless.

This week's expected call of a general election may send plans to liberalise the UK airwaves back to the drawing board, according to latest reports.

A serious headache

The Guardian warns that any delay to the liberalisation of the UK's airwaves "or sale of a new spectrum would leave mobile phone operators with a serious headache."

Ofcom reports that UK mobile data traffic increased by 200% last year and that some networks such as O2 in London are very close to hitting capacity.

The latest spectrum package has been working its way through parliament as a statutory instrument that instructs Ofcom to implement [the government's own spectrum advisor] Kip Meek's plan, notes the Guardian this week. All of this has been going through parliament "alongside the controversial passage of the Digital Economy Bill."

If Gordon Brown calls a general election this week, as is highly likely, the plans could well be be put on hold.

"It looks very, very precarious," said one mobile phone industry insider. "If it does not get through there is every likelihood that a new government will review the whole matter again, delaying the process for a year, perhaps more."

Via The Guardian