This consultation sets out our proposals for the largest ever single award in the UK, of internationally harmonised mobile spectrum – the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.
We expect this spectrum to be used to deliver the next generation of mobile broadband services, using fourth generation (4G) mobile technologies such as LTE and WiMAX. These mobile broadband services might have speeds approaching today’s fixed broadband services, with coverage significantly better than today’s 3G coverage instead approaching today’s 2G (voice) coverage.
Between March and May of this year we consulted on our assessment of likely future competition in mobile markets and proposals for award of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands. We received a number of substantial and strongly argued responses to this consultation. We have been reviewing these responses over the summer, and refining our analysis as a result. In light of these responses, and the significance of the decisions that we need to take - decisions that are likely to shape the future of the mobile sector in the UK for the next decade or more - we have decided to undertake a further round of consultation on these issues.
We plan to publish a further consultation document around the end of this year. We will then give stakeholders an appropriate period of time in which to comment on our refined analysis and respond to our revised proposals - likely to be at least 8 weeks. Our aim will then be to make our decision and publish a statement in the summer of 2012. The auction itself would then follow a few months later - perhaps starting in Q4 2012.1
It is important to remember that the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands will not be available for new use until 2013 in any case - and will likely not be available in all areas of the UK until later in 2013 - and so this step is unlikely to have a material impact on the timeline for the availability of new services to consumers. Nevertheless it continues to be our aim to award this spectrum as quickly as possible, in a manner that best promotes the interests of citizens and consumers, in line with our statutory duties and the Government's direction to Ofcom.
1. We are obliged by the WT Act 2006 to undertake certain procedural steps before we hold an auction. These necessarily take a few months to complete.