Ofcom reveals UK 4G auction winners
Editor | 20-02-2013
UK broadcast and telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced the successful companies in its auction for licences to run 4G telecoms services.
The 4G spectrum was won by Hutchison 3G UK (owner of the 3 network), BT subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures, Telefónica UK and Vodafone. These companies will join Everything Everywhere which has been offering 4G services since mid-2012.
The spectrum auction has generated £2.3 billion for the UK's treasury, over £1 billion less than Chancellor George Osborne predicted in his 2012 Autumn Statement on the IUK economy.
Ofcom expects the four new spectrum winners to be offering 4G services within six months. Key to these services will likely be video-based applications as the extra bandwidth of 4G is more than capable of supporting, theoretically at least, high quality mobile TV sessions.
A total of 250 MHz of spectrum was auctioned in two separate bands – 800MHz and 2.6GHz, equivalent to two-thirds of the radio frequencies currently used by wireless devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops. The lower frequency 800MHz band is part of the 'digital dividend' freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off. The regulator believes that its auction will lead to faster mobile broadband speeds, lower prices, greater innovation, new investment and better coverage. It adds that almost the whole of the UK population will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017 at the latest.
"This is a positive outcome for competition in the UK, which will lead to faster and more widespread mobile broadband, and substantial benefits for consumers and businesses across the country," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. "We are confident that the UK will be among the most competitive markets in the world for 4G services."