It's been a long time coming but UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom has finally announced the start of its auction for 4G spectrum. The auction, which is a necessary step to major carriers launching their own 4G networks, was delayed until 2013. Now, with January nearly over, Ofcom has announced that bidding is under way.
There's a total of seven bidders taking part in the auction. This includes Everything Everywhere, which already has its 4G network up and running (it launched in October). EE aside, the other six bidders are HKT, Hutchison 3G, MLL Telecom, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a subsidiary of BT), Telefonica UK (O2), and Vodafone. This being the modern age, the bidding is being done online. Ofcom says bidders are using special software produced specifically for the auction.
As has been reported on previous occasions, Ofcom has tailored the auction to ensure fair competition for the UK 4G market. As such, the auction has been designed in such a way that four different companies will emerge as credible national 4G wholesalers. There will be several rounds of bidding and it's expected to be a number of weeks before we hear anything about winning bidders.
The seven bidders are vying for 28 lots of spectrum spread over two separate bands. The lower frequency 800 MHz band is part of the ‘digital dividend’ freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off. The higher frequency 2.6 GHz band is said to be ideal for delivering the capacity needed for faster speeds.