Ofcom has announced further details around the auction of 4G services in the UK, following the successful launch of the 4G EE service at the end of October.
Interested parties - Vodafone and O2 mainly - will have until 11 December to submit their proposals in order to be included in the auction process at a future date. If successful, 4G services could be offered by all mobile operators in the UK by early summer.
This new spectrum will be used to deliver superfast 4G mobile services to people in cities, towns and villages across the UK and will almost double the amount of airwaves currently available to smartphones and tablets which use 3G networks.
"Today marks an important shift from preparation to the delivery of the auction, which will see widespread 4G mobile services from a range of providers," said Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive. “The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers.”
Ofcom has confirmed the reserve prices for the spectrum that is being auctioned. The combined total is £1.3 billion.
EE launched its 4G service at the end of October, but has been criticised by many for being too expensive.
Timeline of the auction
11 December 2012: The application day
Prospective bidders submit their applications to Ofcom together with an initial deposit.
December 2012: Qualification stage
Applications are reviewed to determine who can go on to bid in the auction.
January 2013: The principal stage
Bidding begins. This could take several weeks. Bids will be placed online over secure internet connections, using software that has been developed specifically for the auction.
February/March 2013: The assignment stage
Bidders informed of what they have won and its cost.