Ofcom today welcomed applications to take part in the 4G auction – the largest ever mobile spectrum auction in the UK.
The window for applying to take part opened at 10:00 today, with potential bidders having until 16:00 today 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."
All applications will be reviewed by Ofcom to check that the applicants are qualified to take part in the auction. This will involve 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 plans to announce the names of all successful applicants before the end of the year or early in the New Year. 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.
Ofcom expects superfast 4G mobile services to be available to consumers from a range of different mobile phone companies later in the year.
Bidders will be competing for spectrum in two separate bands – 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. The lower frequency 800 MHz band is 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 consumers in towns and cities across the UK. These two bands add up to 250 MHz of additional mobile spectrum, compared to 333 MHz in use today. Both bands are being packaged into smaller lots so that they can be acquired by multiple operators.
This combination of low and high frequency spectrum creates the potential for 4G mobile broadband services to be widely available across the UK, while offering capacity to cope with significant demand in urban centres.
What to expect from 4G
4G services should make it much quicker to surf the web on mobiles – speeds can be nearer to what is currently experienced with home broadband.
Because of this, 4G is ideally suited for high-bandwidth data services such as streaming high-quality video, watching live TV and downloading large files.
For the typical user, download speeds of initial 4G networks could be around 5-7 times those for existing 3G networks. This means a music album taking 20 minutes to download on a 3G phone and just over three minutes on 4G. This is based on existing 3G speeds being 1 Mbit/s on average and 4G speed being 6 Mbit/s (on average between 5 and 7 times faster).
4G consumer information
For information on the upcoming auction and the consumer benefits that new services will deliver, please visit the Ofcom 4G consumer page.
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