UK regulator Ofcom has published its plans for the launch of 4G mobile phone and mobile broadband service. It’s aiming to start the 4G spectrum auction by the end of this year.
4G technology offers faster mobile internet connections than previous mobile phone services.
The proposed sale will offer 80% more radio spectrum than the 2000 UK 3G auction and is equivalent to three-quarters of the mobile spectrum in use across the nation today. Everything Everywhere, Telefónica and Vodafone will be prevented from bidding for part of the spectrum, which ensures either Hutchison’s Three network or a new 4G operator wins some of the spectrum. In addition, one of the 800MHz bands will carry an obligation for the winning network to provide mobile broadband service that offers indoor reception to at least 98% of the UK population by the end of 2017.
Everything Everywhere’s application to use its existing spectrum to deliver 4G services is being considered separately.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said “The 4G auction has been designed to deliver the maximum possible benefit to consumers and citizens across the UK. As a direct result of the measures Ofcom is introducing, consumers will be able to surf the web, stream videos and download email attachments on their mobile device from almost every home in the UK.”
The 4G auction will offer the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum bands for LTE and WiMAX 4G services.
A consultation on the new auction plans will run until 11th September. The new 4G regulations are then expected to be finalised in the autumn, with auction applicants being confirmed before the end of 2012 and bidding likely to start in early 2013. 4G roll-out would begin in mid-2013.
[Full Ofcom statement]