Bidding has begun on 4G services, with seven companies taking part in the UK's largest spectrum auction.
The companies have built secure saferooms with specially built encrypted software to ensure bids are kept under wraps. Ofcom said it will not provide any details about the bidding until the auction has finished.
The initial bidding rounds will take place during the coming weeks, with operators set to roll out 4G services in late spring. The auction works under the complicated combinatorial clock structure, where Ofcom announces a price for the lots of spectrum on sale and then each bidder states what combinations of lots they would most want to win at those prices. Ofcom will then raise the price of each lot that has excess demand until it outstrips supply.
The Government has previously said it hopes to raise at least £3.5bn from the auction, although operator sources have expressed scepticism at this price tag to Mobile.
Along with EE, O2, Vodafone and Three, HKT, BT subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures and MLL Telecom are taking part in the auction.
Ofcom CEO Ed Richards said: 'Today’s 4G auction is a very significant milestone for the UK’s communications sector.'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.'
Author: Graeme Neill