UK phone users can expect to be able to enjoy 4G connectivity on Vodafone and O2 before Summer 2013, Ofcom has confirmed, following successful "peace talks" with all the UK operators.
"Ofcom today welcomed the significant progress that has been made in moving forward the delivery of competitive 4G mobile services across the UK," the company said in a statement.
"This progress means that the 4G auction process is on track to begin at the end of the year to enable competitive 4G services across UK during the first half of 2013."
The news is likely to be welcomed by all operators, especially Vodafone and O2, after Orange and T-Mobile's parent company EE was given the go-ahead to go live with a 4G service before Christmas.
“We welcome the constructive work that Ofcom, the Government and the industry has undertaken over the past four weeks. There is still a lot of work to be done but we now have a path to the launch of competitive 4G services next Spring, bringing real benefits to consumers, businesses and the wider economy," a Vodafone spokesperson told Pocket-lint.
The EE, has been officially announced, but not officially live yet for customers. It plans to offer 4G services on the 1800MHz band in 16 cities before the end of the year. It was feared that other operators wouldn't be able to be in a position to offer 4G for months.
Ofcom says it plans to start the auction process to release spectrum at the end of the year, with bidding starting early in 2013. That should mean 4G handsets could be available to the public on the new spectrum as soon as the summer.
The 4G spectrum being auctioned will work on the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands and be made available as soon as possible, five months earlier than previously planned, from spring 2013 thanks to a speedy digital switchover for TV viewers that has freed up some of the spectrum that will be used.
EE, which is offering 4G services now, already has a number of new 4G-enabled phones promised, including the iPhone 5. But as it currently stands, the new iPhone 5 released in September 2012 won't work on the new UK 4G spectrum anyway because it doesn't support the 800Mhz and 2.6GHz frequencies.
EE has said that it will launch its 4G service in the UK on the 30 October and will cover 10 cities initially.