Ofcom welcomes 4G bids

Ofcom welcomes 4G bids

Communication watchdog Ofcom has started the bidding process for the remaining 4G spectrum in the UK today, with a host of mobile broadband operators expected to put their case forward.

The window for applications opened at 10 am today, with potential bidders having until 4pm to submit their application along with 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."

Both Vodafone and O2 are expected to submit bids today, which will be reviewed by Ofcom to check that all applicants are qualified to take part in the auction.

This process will take some time as it involves carrying out a range of checks, from ensuring the information submitted is correct through to ensuring that there is no overlap between applications, which could distort the auction.

Ofcom will be announcing the names of all of the successful applicants before the end of the year or early in the New Year if the process takes longer than expected. Bidding will then start in January 2013 and is likely to take place over a number of weeks before the final result of the auction is known.

Each of the bidders will be competing for spectrum in two separate bands, 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz, with the lower frequency forming part of the "digital dividend" freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off, which is ideal for widespread mobile coverage.

The higher frequency 2.6 GHz band is ideal for delivering the capacity needed to deliver faster speeds to large numbers of mobile internet users in towns and cities across the UK.

When Vodafone, O2 and other companies begin rolling out their own 4G networks, business users will be able to access a much-quicker internet service, with speeds expected to be close to those experienced with home broadband.