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UPDATE Ofcom Open UK Superfast 4G Mobile Broadband Spectrum Auction

Tuesday, Dec 11th, 2012 (12:50 pm) - Score 957

The UK communications regulator has today begun the long awaited and much delayed auction of 4G (LTE) superfast Mobile Broadband radio spectrum (800MHz and 2.6GHz) by opening the process up to the first official applications from Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and related firms.

Potential bidders have been given until 4pm today to submit their application along with an initial deposit of £100,000. Ofcom will then review each application in order to ensure that the operators are qualified to take part. A list of approved operators is expected to surface by the end of December 2012 or “early in the New Year” (i.e. before the end of January 2013 at the latest).

Ed Richards, Ofcoms Chief Executive, said:

We have fired the starting gun on the 4G auction process. In the past year alone, mobile internet usage has doubled. The 4G auction will release crucial capacity to support future growth, helping to boost UK productivity, innovation and drive significant improvements to mobile broadband availability across the UK.”

Once awarded the final spectrum release phase is expected to complete during “the first half of 2013” (spring), when the winning operators will be able to get their hands on the new bands and begin to launch the first commercial services.

The lower frequency 800MHz band, which was released when the older analogue terrestrial TV service was switched off, is the sweet spot because it can cover a wider area for a lower cost (albeit while sacrificing some speed) and could thus be of significant use in rural areas. Mobile operator Three UK is known to be targeting this one.

The government ultimately aim for “at least” 98% of UK people to gain access to Mobile Broadband connectivity by the end of 2017, with 4G via 800MHz expected to play a significant role in that effort.

Ofcoms Auction Timetable, Prices and Details

UPDATE 12th December 2012

The FT reports that O2, Three UK, EE and Vodafone have all prepared bids for a slice of the valuable 800MHz spectrum and BT has also put in for some of the 2.6GHz band.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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