Ofcom has confirmed that applications have been opened for
mobile operators to put in bids for the 4G auction, the largest ever sell-off
of the mobile spectrum in the UK.
The bidding process only had a short window into which to
submit their applications, between 10:00am and 16:00pm yesterday, potential
bidders also had to provide an initial deposit of £100,000.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "We have fired the starting gun on the 4G auction
process. In the past year alone, mobile internet usage has doubled.”
"The 4G auction will release crucial capacity to support
future growth, helping to boost UK productivity, innovation and drive
significant improvements to mobile broadband availability across the UK."
The next stage of the proceedings will be for the
regulators to review applications to check that applicants are qualified to
take part. This involves carrying out a range of checks to ensure that the
right information is submitted, along with "ensuring that there is no overlap
between applications, which could distort the auction”.
Successful applicants will be informed and announced by
Ofcom either just before the end of this year or early in the New Year. The
bidding process will then begin and will continue for a few weeks before the
final results of the auction are released.
Following this, it’s thought that 4G services will be made
available to consumers later in the year from various mobile phone networks.
The bidding competes for spectrum in two separate
bands, 800MHz and 2.6GHz. The lower frequency is that which was freed up from
the terrestrial digital switchover and the higher to "deliver faster speeds to
large numbers of consumers in towns and cities across the UK”.
"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 so that they can be acquired by multiple operators,”
Ofcom said in a statement.
They went on to say that the combination of high and low
frequencies will allow for 4G to be widely available across the UK and offer
the capacity to "cope with significant demand in urban centres”.For information on the upcoming auction and the
consumer benefits that new services will deliver, please visit the Ofcom 4G consumer page.