January 16, 2013

4G Auction Bidding – Begins This Week

4g-auction-bidding-begins-this-week-4g-co-ukSeven companies each paid £100,000 back in December, 2013 to take part in the 4G auction and the auction bidding officially starts this week. The seven companies taking part in the 4G auction are confirmed as : Everything Everywhere ( EE ), Vodafone, O2, Three, MLL Telecom, HKT UK ( and Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (a subsidiary of BT Group plc ).


We covered why MLL Telecom, HKT and BT are bidding for a 4G Licence here and recently heard that MLL Telecom has appointed a Chief Technical Officer to oversee its 4G Licence bid and drive the company’s 4G plans forward.


The 4G auction is scheduled to complete in early March and we all may be wondering why the heck it’s going to take so long. The main reason is that there are 28 lots of 4G frequency spectrum slices to be auctioned and seven companies bidding for them. This means that there are thousands of possible routes to a conclusion and the auction centres around a start-stop-start process of bidding until a successful outcome is concluded.


Another potential holding factor is that all 4G Licence bidders have to be treated equally and fairly. To oversee this, Ofcom has recently appointed a high profile firm of legal experts to deal with all the legal issues involved and any threat of legal action from the bidders throughout the 4G auction process. More on the appointment of the 4G Auction legal experts appointment here.


The sale of the 4G auction frequency spectrum will be the largest seen in the UK and will bring an extra 75% much needed capacity for mobile operators. The 28 slices of 4G frequency spectrum are being auctioned from within the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands. However, the 800MHz frequency band is more desirable than the 2.6GHz band as it is more akin to wide area coverage. The 4G auction is likely to raise around £3-4 billion pounds for the UK government.


Once the successful bidders are confirmed we will then see Vodafone, O2 and Three launch their respective 4G mobile networks sometime commencing May / June 2013. However, Three may not launch till as late as September, 2013. More on Three’s 4G launch here.