UK telecoms regulator Ofcom says the first bid stage of its 800MHz and 2.6GHz mobile spectrum auction has now started. Seven companies are competing for 4G spectrum in a process known as a ‘combinatorial clock auction’ that’s expected to take several weeks and a number of separate bidding rounds.
Ofcom says it won’t be providing any further updates until the auction is over because it doesn’t want to risk this information being used by any of the bidders.
The UK’s four big network operators are bidding - Everything Everywhere (EE), Hutchison 3G UK (Three), Telefónica UK (O2) and Vodafone - plus three other companies: HKT (UK), MLL Telecom and Niche Spectrum Ventures.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said “Today’s 4G auction is a very significant milestone for the UK’s communications sector. It will release the essential raw material for the next wave of mobile digital services. This will change the way we consume digital media in both our personal and working lives and deliver significant benefits to millions of consumers and businesses across the country.”
Bidders are competing for 28 lots of spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands:
- 800 MHz paired: 5 lots
- 2.6 GHz unpaired: 14 lots
- 2.6 GHz concurrent low power: 10 lots
- 2.6 GHz unpaired: 9 lots
EE, which launched 4G services in the UK last year after getting permission to reuse some of its 3G spectrum, has just cut the price of its entry-level 4G tariff to £31 per month as part of a promotional offer. It's also introducing a new tariff with a 20GB monthly limit for 'super-users'.