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Ofcom Announces Plans for UK's 4G Spectrum Auction

By - Source: Ofcom | B 6 comments

Bidding expected to begin early next year.

While wireless users in the United States and Canada have multiple options when it comes to 4G, the UK isn't quite so lucky. Though the country has seen several 4G trials, no network has officially launched a 4G LTE network as of yet. This is because Ofcom is planning to auction off new 4G spectrum suitable for LTE with regulations to ensure no one network gets left behind.

Ofcom last year announced plans for a 2012 auction. However, thanks to delays, the auction has yet to take place. Today, the telecoms watchdog announced that the auction would be under way by the end of 2012, paving the way for a 4G roll-out in 2013. The auction will offer the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today and will be the largest ever auction of spectrum for mobile services in the UK. It will offer 80 percent more than the 3G auction, which took place in 2000.

The auction will cover two separate spectrum bands – 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. According to Ofcom, the lower frequency band is part of the digital dividend, which is being freed-up as the UK switches from analogue to digital TV, and is ideal for widespread coverage. The higher-frequency 2.6GHz band is better suited to delivering higher speeds. Combined, these two bands add up to 250MHz of additional mobile spectrum.

As was said before, networks bidding on the spectrum will also be bound by certain obligations. For example, Ofcom said today that One of the 800 MHz lots of spectrum will carry an obligation to provide a mobile broadband service for indoor reception to at least 98% of the UK population by the end of 2017 at the latest. The watchdog is hoping that by requiring one operator to do so will drive other operators to up the ante in terms of their own coverage.

Lastly, the telecoms body said that it feels UK consumers would benefit from better services at lower prices if there are at least four credible national wholesalers of 4G mobile services. As a result, Ofcom has decided to reserve a minimum amount of spectrum in the auction for a fourth operator. "This could be either Hutchison 3G [parent company of 3UK] or a new entrant altogether," Ofcom said today.

Ofcom said that it plans to start the auction process before the year's end. In line with that schedule, bidding is expected to start in early 2013.

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  • 0 Hide
    lockhrt999 , July 25, 2012 8:52 AM
    Last time after 3G auction a few European telcos went bankrupt and thousands of people lost their jobs. Looks like history will repeat itself. These folks just don't learn anything, they will milk the cow till it dies. Additionally euro doesn't look strong at the moment.
    Spectrum is like air, gov'ts don't make spectrum, it's just available to use since big bang. They shouldn't charge exorbitant money for it.
  • 0 Hide
    mcvf , July 25, 2012 10:07 AM
    Did 4G solve battery draining problem? I have no problem with 3G speed in phone, I have problem with my battery drying out just so fast.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 25, 2012 2:04 PM
    Image - "VTEC just kicked in, yo"
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 25, 2012 5:11 PM
    lockhrt999Last time after 3G auction a few European telcos went bankrupt and thousands of people lost their jobs. Looks like history will repeat itself. These folks just don't learn anything, they will milk the cow till it dies. Additionally euro doesn't look strong at the moment

    This is in the UK and none of their telco's went bust, also the UK is not in the Euro, it uses the Pound (£)
    ...
    Just because it is part of the continent of Europe, it is not Euro-zone - you should be able to appreciate the subtle difference between USA and Canada despite both being on the continent of North America
    ...
    UK is doing just fine thanks, don't lump us all in together with Greece, Portugal, Spain and all these other failed Euro currency experiment nations
  • 0 Hide
    lockhrt999 , July 25, 2012 8:04 PM
    back_by_demandThis is in the UK and none of their telco's went bust, also the UK is not in the Euro, it uses the Pound (£)...Just because it is part of the continent of Europe, it is not Euro-zone - you should be able to appreciate the subtle difference between USA and Canada despite both being on the continent of North America...UK is doing just fine thanks, don't lump us all in together with Greece, Portugal, Spain and all these other failed Euro currency experiment nations


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecoms_crash
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , July 25, 2012 9:02 PM
    lockhrt999http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecoms_crash

    People lost jobs, no UK based Telcos went bust
    ...
    The previous operators Vodafone, Orange, Tmobile, O2 and "3" all remained operational
    Most of the expensive telecoms infrastructure was being placed by BT, so none of the Mobile Telcos had to stump up for that, only the airwaves auction, BT made good money too as they had a virtual monopoly on highspeed internet and customers that went to alternate vendors still used their equipment as it is leased to the other people through the LLU programs
    ...
    And the UK still isn't in the Euro, but good Wiki searching, maybe you should live in the UK like I do instead