21 Dec 2012

Ofcom unveils UK 4G bidders

Ofcom has revealed the bidders in the forthcoming 4G mobile spectrum auction, touted as the largest ever sale of mobile airwaves in the UK.

Bidding starts in January 2013 with following organisations having qualified; Everything Everywhere, HKT, Hutchison 3G UK, MLL Telecom, Niche Spectrum Ventures, Telefónica UK and Vodafone.

According to Ofcom this new spectrum will boost the amount of airwaves available to mobile phones by more than 75%.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “New 4G services will stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the UK and deliver significant benefits to consumers in terms of better, faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections.”

Bidders will be competing for spectrum in two separate bands – 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. The lower frequency 800 MHz band is part of the ‘digital dividend’ freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off, which is ideal for widespread mobile coverage.

The higher frequency 2.6 GHz band is ideal for delivering the capacity needed to deliver faster speeds. These two bands add up to 250 MHz of additional mobile spectrum, compared to 333 MHz in use today. Both bands are being packaged into smaller lots for the auction.

This combination of low and high frequency spectrum creates the potential for 4G mobile broadband services to be widely available across the UK, while offering capacity to cope with significant demand in urban centres, says Ofcom.

For the typical user, download speeds of initial 4G networks will be at least 5-7 times those for existing 3G networks.

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