Ofcom unveils identities of 4G bidders

20 Dec 2012

The UK’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed the names of those companies that will take part in its upcoming sale of spectrum suitable for fourth-generation services. Seven companies will vie for the in-demand frequencies, with all four of the country’s mobile network operators – Everything Everywhere, Telefonica (O2), Vodafone and Hutchison 3G UK – among them. Rounding out the bidders are HKT (UK) Company, a subsidiary of PCCW, Niche Spectrum Ventures, a subsidiary of fixed line incumbent BT, and managed networks supplier MLL Telecom.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month Ofcom published the final regulations and timetable for the 4G mobile spectrum auction, while it also confirmed the reserve prices for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies, with the combined total standing at GBP1.3 billion (USD2.07 billion). In terms of the timings for the sale process, the auction itself is now expected to begin in January 2013, with the regulator noting that this stage could take ‘a number of weeks’. In either February or March, dependent on how long the bidding process runs for, winning bidders will be informed of which concessions they have secured, and fees will become payable, following which the licences will be granted. According to Ofcom’s proposed schedule, meanwhile, commercial 4G services are then expected to be inaugurated by June 2013, bringing competition to the UK’s largest cellco by subscribers EE, which launched commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) services last month using its existing spectrum holdings in the 1800MHz band.