Ofcom seem to be taking note of the lessons learnt from their 3G wireless auction back in 2002. They have decided to place more emphasis upon the tendering UK mobile operators with regard to both network and population coverage. These new proposals will be included as part of the upcoming 4G spectrum auction to be held late in 2012.
Another important factor which Ofcom has taken into consideration is that in the next five years mobile data usage will escalate by over 500%. Ofcom has therefore tabled a number of new proposals.
The main proposal is that 4G wireless coverage must reach at least 98% of the UK population along with the promotion of competition between the successful 4G mobile operators. Ofcom will be auctioning the "old digital TV" spectrum in the 800 MHz band and also the 2.6GHz spectrum band and both will be used for 4G services.
A second proposal has been tabled, that at least one mobile operator takes a 800 MHz licence to provide 4G services which matches the current 2G network coverage and goes beyond this coverage to include "not spot" areas of the UK where no service currently exists. The government has provided up to £150 million pounds to support network coverage in these "not spot" areas of the UK.
The Ofcom proposal called the "second consultation" will now be passed to mobile operators and all relevant parties for comment prior to final approval.
Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards, said: "This is a crucial step in preparing for the most significant spectrum release in the UK for many years. The proposals published today will influence the provision of services to consumers for the next decade and beyond.
"The UK benefits from being one of the most competitive mobile phone markets in Europe. This means that consumers pay less for mobile communications services and have the choice to shop around for packages that suit them best. As the UK enters a new generation of mobile communications, Ofcom's objective is to promote effective competition and to stimulate both investment and innovation.
"In addition we are proposing a significant enhancement of mobile broadband, extending 4G coverage beyond levels of existing 2G coverage - helping to serve many areas of the UK that have traditionally been under-served by network coverage."
We can expect to see Ofcom's latest proposals, updated and verified in the summer of 2012 with the auction itself commencing late in 2012.