Ofcom has announced its plans for auctioning off the 4G spectrum to the networks, but it’s bad news: bidding won’t start until early 2013. It was hoped the auction would take place before the end of this year, and that was delayed from the beginning of 2012.
Delays, delays. At this rate we’re set to be years behind the rest of the world for deploying 4G.
Ofcom estimates we’ll see actual 4G services rollout late next year.
The networks are squabbling for the best spectrum, with Ofcom wanting to make sure everyone has a fair crack of the whip. Otherwise a small network like Three might struggle to compete with budgets of the bigger ones. And without any 4G spectrum, you might as well pack your bags.
Everything Everywhere wants to launch 4G in the UK right now using its 800MHz spectrum, but Ofcom has fielded complaints from the other networks that this would give it an unfair advantage.
As part of the 4G deployment, Ofcom plans to rollout mobile broadband to at least 98 percent of people in the rural areas of the UK. The auction will serve up the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use – that’s 80 percent more than offered in the 3G auction in 2000.
Ofcom said: “In the interests of competition, Ofcom has decided to reserve a minimum amount of spectrum in the auction for a fourth operator. This could be either Hutchinson 3G or a new entrant altogether.”
We’re cooking up a mammoth feature on 4G in the UK to go live later this week, so stay tuned.