The government and Ofcom have confirmed that the UK’s major mobile networks will be able to launch 4G mobile phone services in the first half of next year. 800MHz and 2.6GHz radio frequencies for 4G services are being made available earlier than previously expected, which means networks will be able to launch 4G within a few months of the planned spectrum auction.
The auction process will start later this year, with prospective 4G networks bidding in early 2013. It follows a decision by Ofcom in August to give Everything Everywhere - now rebranding as EE - an early start by allowing it to re-use part of its existing radio spectrum ahead of the auction.
Maria Miller MP, UK Secretary of State for culture, said “Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy. I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services.”
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive, said “The actions we have taken with industry and government avoids the risk of significant delay and is tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services. Ofcom’s objective has always been to release the spectrum as early as possible and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end of the year.”
Discussions with TV broadcasters, Digital UK and transmission company Arqiva have enabled Ofcom to arrange for the radio spectrum - previously used for digital television broadcasting - to be ready for 4G mobile services in major cities five months earlier than previously planned.