Ofcom will auction a third of the mobile phone spectrum in the UK in 2009.

This section of the spectrum has been, and is currently used, by O2 and Vodafone for over 20 years. Neither company will be permitted to bid to win it back and will not be compensated for the loss.

Orange, T-Mobile and 3 will be able to bid and Ofcom also expects up to three new entrants to emerge as potential purchasers.

Ofcom wants to see this part of the 900MHz spectrum used to run wireless broadband services in rural areas and thinks it's feasible to use it to create a high-quality mobile broadband network covering 99% of the UK population.

The last time mobile phone spectrum was up for auction in the UK was when the 3G networks were created for more than £20 billion.

Ofcom estimates that this forthcoming auction could raise £6 billion.

A spectrum auction in the States is currently making tech headlines, with reports that Google, as well as Apple, are considering bids.