November 12, 2012

4G Launch Haze Lifts – Ofcom Auction Rules Confirmed

The 4G auction process has been delayed for years due to a number of factors, but now Ofcom has confirmed the “run-in” for the completion of the 4G frequency spectrum auction here in the UK. 4G.co.uk learnt today that even Alaska is launching 4G before we even get the 4G auction process underway.

Of course, EE ( which owns Orange and T-Mobile ) launched 4G on the 31st October this year when Ofcom gave them a special concession to launch 4G in the 1800MHz frequency spectrum that it already owned.

The forthcoming 4G auction, dates and schedule are confirmed below, will release frequency spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz for the provision of 4G mobile services via  4G phones, 4G tablets and 4G mobile broadband. Ofcom has set a reserve price of £1.3 billion pounds for the auction but a figure of closer to £4 billion will be a realistic auction figure.

The 4G auction process “kicks off” on the 11th December via an on-line application form submission with 2 mock auctions taking place before the 3rd December. It’s not yet clear which mobile operators will be bidding for which 4G frequency bands but 4G know that Vodafone will be bidding for the 800MHz band at least, EE have said they are bidding for both, and Three have already acquired a chunk of 1800MHz 4G band from EE. 4G also know that the lower 800Mhz frequency band gives better 4G signal reception indoors and so is more desirable overall.

This is the full 4G auction approval process :

11th December : 4G auction applications commence

December : 4G auction application forms reviewed approved / re-submit / reject

January : 4G auction bidding process ( over a number of weeks )

February / March : 4G auction bidding results / costs revealed

May / June 2013 : 4G services cleared for launch in 800MHz and 2.6GHz bnds.

The above process and its approval system will mean that Vodafone, O2 and Three will be forced to wait to launch their 4G networks till at least May 2013. This means that EE has some seven months to take advantage of its 4G launch before the other 4G mobile operators launch 4G themselves.