The auction of spectrum for 4G mobile services in the UK is set to get under way by the end of 2012, Ofcom has announced.
The regulator said that the auction will offer the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today—some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000.
The plans should see 4G mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98% of people in villages, towns and cities across the UK.
Ofcom has decided to reserve some of the available spectrum for a fourth national wholesaler, other than the three largest mobile operators. According to Ofcom, this could be either Hutchinson 3G or a new entrant to the market.
Commenting on the auction plans, Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "The 4G auction has been designed to deliver the maximum possible benefit to consumers and citizens across the UK.
"As a direct result of the measures Ofcom is introducing, consumers will be able to surf the web, stream videos and download email attachments on their mobile device from almost every home in the UK."
Ofcom expects the auction process to start before the end of this year, with prospective bidders required formally to apply to take part. Those applications will then be assessed by Ofcom before the bidding phase starts, likely to be in early 2013.
Mobile operators are expected to start rolling out 4G networks using the auctioned spectrum from the middle of 2013, and to start offering 4G services to consumers later that year.
Links open in a new window. The DTG is not responsible for the content of other web sites.