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January 23, 2013

Ofcom commences bidding in 4G auction

Seven bidders are now competing to acquire new airwaves for 4G mobile broadband services.

By Tineka Smith

The bid will allow firms to have the ability to launch 4G mobile broadband services across the this year. The new spectrum is expected to boost the amount of available airwaves to mobile phones by 75%.

Bidders in the 4G auction include: EE, MLL Telecom, HTK, Niche Spectrum Ventures, Vodafone and Telefónica.

"Today’s 4G auction is a very significant milestone for the UK’s communications sector,2 said Ed Richards, Ofcom’s Chief Executive.

"It will release the essential raw material for the next wave of mobile digital services. This will change the way we consume digital media in both our personal and working lives and deliver significant benefits to millions of consumers and businesses across the country," he added.

After licences are granted, operators will be able to start rolling out new networks, with services expected to be available by spring or summer this year.

Bidders will compete for 28 lots of spectrum in the 800 MHz band and the 2.6 GHz band.

While 4G services will give consumers access to faster mobile speeds across the UK, a survey revealed that that 90% of people said they wouldn’t change their current mobile provider to have access to 4G.
According to Virgin Media Business, the main reason consumers will not change providers for 4G access is to save money.

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Over 60% of the 2000 consumers surveyed said they wouldn’t pay more to access 4G.

"With so much investment being made into existing and future services, and huge expectations around what those advances will bring to the UK, it’s time for telcos like us to work even more closely to deliver a blend of technologies that will not only improve existing 3G performance, but also ensure that 4G is the success everyone wants it to be," George Wareing director of mobile and broadcast at Virgin Media Business.

"Of course price will always be a factor with consumer purchasing decisions," he added. "However, by taking a holistic approach and giving customers a better understanding of their services, operators will be able to differentiate themselves not just on price but on a better all-round service, setting themselves up perfectly to roll-out future technology such as 4G."

The 4G auction is expected to generate £3.5bn for the treasury.

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