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4G auction in UK by end of 2012
25 July 2012
Some spectrum to be reserved for fourth national wholesaler
Auction of spectrum
for mobile services in the UK is set to commence by the end of 2012, the
telecoms regulatory body Ofcom has announced. The auction will lay the path for
4G networks to be rolled out in 2013. The development should see mobile
broadband rolled out to at least 98% of people in villages, towns and cities
across the country, Ofcom said in a release.
The auction will offer
the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today, which is
around 80% more than released in the 3G auction held in 2000. Ofcom has also
decided to reserve some of the available spectrum for a fourth national
wholesaler other than the three largest mobile operators – Everything
Everywhere, Telefónica’s O2 and Vodafone. This could be either Hutchison 3G or
a new entrant. Ofcom has concluded that consumers are likely to benefit from
better services at lower prices if there are at least four credible national
wholesalers of 4G mobile services.
Ofcom’s CEO, Ed
Richards, 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 at least two spectrum bands – 800 megahertz and 2.6 gigahertz, which add
up to 250 megahertz of additional mobile spectrum, compared to 333 megahertz in
use today. The spectrum bands will be auctioned to bidders in a series of lots.
Mobile operators are anticipated to start introducing 4G networks using the
auctioned spectrum from the middle of 2013, and to start providing 4G services
to consumers later in 2013.
Ofcom anticipates the
auction to start before the end of 2012, with potential bidders required to
apply to participate. The applications will then be assessed by Ofcom before
the bidding phase starts, likely to be in early 2013.
Ofcom has necessitated
that the same operator provides the same indoor service to at least 95% of the
population of each of the UK nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and
Wales. Outdoor coverage for a network meeting this obligation is likely to be
98-99% of the population of each nation.
also published draft of the legal instrument which implements the auction rules
and gives effect to its decisions. GTB