Ofcom has announced the names of the telecommunications providers that that will take part in auction of two ‘4G’ spectrum bands next month.
The seven bidders are: Everything Everywhere Limited (UK), HKT (UK) Company Limited (a subsidiary of PCCW Limited), 3UK, MLL Telecom Ltd, Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (a subsidiary of BT Group plc), Telefónica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited.
According to Ofcom, bidding will take several weeks and will take place over secure Internet connections using specially designed software.The winners will be informed between February and March and will be free to launch new services in May or June.
There are two spectrum bands on offer. The first, 800 MHz, was freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off, is suited for widespread mobile coverage. The second band, operating at a higher frequency of 2.6 GHz band, is capable of delivering faster speeds.
“The 4G auction will be a competitive process that will dictate the shape of the UK mobile phone market for the next decade and beyond,” said Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. “New 4G services will stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the UK and deliver significant benefits to consumers in terms of better, faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections.”
In July, Ofcom said one of the conditions for rolling out 4G services was the inclusion of at least four “credible national wholesalers” of mobile services.
Despite this, the communications watchdog gave Everything Everywhere, now EE, the green light to provide the UK’s first nationwide 4G services in August on the basis that not doing so would have been at the detriment of consumers.
News agency Reuters reported that the Dutch government, which had hoped to raise 480 million euros from its 4G auction earlier this month, raised a total of 3.8 billion euros from auctioning 41 separate spectrum licences to companies including Vodafone, KPN and T-Mobile.