Ofcom published its 4G spectrum auction timetable on Monday, outlining its process from the application stage next month to the launch of new mobile services in May or June.
The telecoms regulator claims that the auction, which will see competing telecom providers bid for licences to provide 4G mobile services on part of the government’s 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz LTE spectrum bands, will be the largest-ever sale of mobile airwaves in the UK.
A reserve price of £1.3 billion has been set for the total amount of bandwidth available.
Potential bidders have until 11 December to submit applications to Ofcom, which will be reviewed later that month to select which candidates will go on to bid in the auction.
Bidding will begin in January and could take several weeks, with candidates to place bids online over secure internet connections, using software specifically developed for the auction, Ofcom said.
Between February and March, bidders will be informed of what part of the spectrums they have won, Ofcom said, followed by the granting of licences to successful bidders.
Finally, Ofcom has outlined May or June for new 4G services to go live from a range of providers.
“Today marks an important shift from preparation to the delivery of the auction, which will see widespread 4G mobile services from a range of providers,” said Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. “The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers.”
Last month, Ofcom brought forward the roll-out of 4G services to spring after holding successful talks with TV broadcasters and infrastructure providers to secure the earlier release of frequencies previously used for digital terrestrial broadcasting that will be used to provide the next wave of wireless communications.
Ofcom awarded EE the right to provide the first mobile 4G services using its own 1800MHz LTE spectrum in August on the grounds that consumers would benefit significantly from gaining early access to faster mobile services.
EE, which owns the Orange and T-Mobile services, launched its consumer and commercial 4G services, along with fibre-optic broadband packages, on 30 October.