OfCom have announced today that its expected auction for provision of 4G mobile services will take place before the end of the year, but that as a result of the bidding process, the successful operators will not be able to offer the services until late in 2013.
This news will be a blow to campaigners such as Everything Everywhere – the partnership between Orange and T-Mobile – who champion a quicker roll-out of 4G technology with their 4GBritain campaign. Which has support for the likes of The Countryside Alliance, along with industry names like Virgin Media.
Ofcom have also said to ensure a fully competitive market, it decided to reserve some of the available spectrum for a fourth national wholesaler other than the three largest mobile operators.
Alongside the announcement the regulator has published a draft of the legal instrument which implements the auction rules and gives effect to its decisions, which is subject to a statutory consultation closing on 11 September 2012, hence the delay.
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 mobile broadband rolled out to at least 98% of people in villages, towns and cities across the UK.
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.”