Ofcom sets 4G timetable

November 12, 2012 09.11 Europe/London By Julian Clover

A reserve price of £1.3 billion has been put on the sale of 4G spectrum by the regulator Ofcom.

The spectrum, largely drawn from the switch-off of analogue television services, will almost double the amount of capacity available to the tablets and smartphones that currently use 3G networks.

“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 chief executive 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.”

Applications to participate in the auction will need to be with Ofcom by December 11. After a qualification stage the bidding will take place in January with the winners being notified in February or March.

Services are likely to go live in the early summer.

In a controversial move Ofcom granted early permission to EE, which launched a 4G service in some areas of the UK on October 30.

Separately, John Whittingdale, a leading member of the parliamentary media select committee, has called for greater action on the issue of interference to terrestrial television signals.

Whittingdale told a Westminister Hall debate that he had been advised that it would be difficult to launch a publicity campaign until it was known where potentially offending 4G base stations would be located.