Britain's four operators will join three others in battling for 4G spectrum in the forthcoming auction.
Ofcom confirmed this morning that EE, O2, Vodafone and Three will take part in the sell-off, which the Government hopes will raise £3.5bn for the Treasury although operator sources are sceptical about the price-tag. The four are joined by HKT, a subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate PCCW, backhaul specialist MLL Telecom and BT, via its Niche Spectrum Ventures subsidiary.
The auction, which was delayed from last year and subject to the threat of legal challenges, is expected to increase the amount of spectrum available to mobile users by 75%. The sell-off of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum has been designed to leave the United Kingdom with four 'credible' wholesalers of mobile services. EE launched its own 4G service in October, after being granted permission by Ofcom to refarm its 1800MHz holding
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: ‘The 4G auction will be a competitive process that will dictate the shape of the UK mobile phone market for the next decade and beyond.
'New 4G services will stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the UK and deliver significant benefits to consumers in terms of better, faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections,’ he added.
Author: Graeme Neill