Ofcom gears up for 4G auction but we won't be able to use it until late 2013

Ofcom says we will all (well 98 per cent of the UK at least) be using 4G services in the second half of 2013, as it gears up for the auction between the major operators for the super-fast network.

The regulatory authority has laid out the criteria for the auction which, it says, will take place before the end of the year. The auction will see the three major networks – O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere – scrap it out over three quarters of the mobile spectrum being used today.

To give this some perspective, this is 80 per cent more than was up for grabs in the 3G auction in 2000. This should result in 98 per cent of the country being able to enjoy 4G mobile broadband speeds on their devices.

Ofcom has also been adamant that pricing must remain competitive and as such has reserved some space on the spectrum for a fourth operator to become involved. While this will most likely be Three, it does open the door for another less-established operator to get in on the act. 

With Everything Everywhere having accused both O2 and Vodafone of stalling on plans to move into 4G, the two operators announced a joint venture that will see them share one national grid to help improve call and mobile internet quality when 4G finally rolls out.

The timing of that is likely to be mid 2013, when the dust following the 4G auction will have finally settled. However, it won’t be until later next year that we will be able to enjoy 4G services on our mobile devices.

Are you excited about Ofcom's news or were you expecting something sooner with regards to 4G? Let us know in the comments below.