Ofcom unveils 4G auction plans

Plans could see mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98 per cent of people in UK.

OFCOM's headquarters in London. Photograph: Getty Images.

Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, has revealed that 4G auction plans for mobile services in the country will begin by the end of 2012.

The auction will offer at least two spectrum bands - 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz, which add up to 250 MHz of additional mobile spectrum, compared to 333 MHz in use today. The spectrum bands will be auctioned to bidders as a series of lots.

The auction will offer the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use, which is roughly 80 per cent more than released in the 3G auction in 2000.

Ofcom claims that the plans should see mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98 per cent of people in villages, towns and cities across the UK.
 
To ensure that UK consumers continue to benefit from a competitive market, Ofcom has also decided to reserve some of the available spectrum for a fourth national wholesaler other than the three largest mobile operators.

Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, 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 e-mail attachments on their mobile device from almost every home in the UK.”