& cplSiteName &

UK Kicks Off 4G Auction Process

Michelle Donegan
Wireless Bits
Michelle Donegan

2:35 PM -- After years of delay, the 4G spectrum auction process in the U.K. officially started today. Hurrah!

U.K. regulator Ofcom on Tuesday accepted applications from potential bidders, along with a £100,000 (US$161,000) entry fee. And the deadline to apply was 4:00 p.m. GMT. But we won't know who has applied to bid for spectrum until Ofcom reviews the applications and publishes the list of those who qualified by the end of this year or early next year. That is, unless I can find out first!

This is just the qualification phase for the auction, but it does mark the start of the long-waited event in the British telecom calendar. Bidding is expected to start in January 2013.

Up for grabs is a total of 250MHz of spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6MHz frequency bands suitable, and even very desirable, for 4G services.

Now that the auction process is under way, U.K. operators Three UK , Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) and Vodafone UK -- assuming they all qualify to participate -- can start playing catch-up with rival EE . The U.K. joint venture of T-Mobile (UK) and Orange UK will enjoy a 4G head start of at least seven months because it won approval from the regulator to launch commercial LTE services on October 30 using the 1800MHz spectrum is already had for 2G services. (See Britain's Bloomin' LTE , EE Shares 4G Lessons Learned and How Not to Do 4G, EE-Style.)

Even once more 4G services are launched sometime in 2013, the U.K. will still lag far behind other LTE markets. Informa Telecoms & Media analyst Thomas Wehmeier put the U.K.'s position into some context in a research note issued today: "By the time the remaining 4G networks are switched on at some point in the middle of next year, more than one-third of Korean and about 20 percent of Japanese consumers will already be actively using 4G services in their respective countries." (See Europe Set for LTE Laggard Status.)

But the big question about this auction is who wants the 4G spectrum most? Ofcom has designed the auction to ensure that there are four wholesale mobile network operators providing 4G services. One scenario, and a likely one, is that the existing four operators -- 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone -- emerge from the auction with new 4G spectrum. But the process is certainly open to a newcomer.

So, will it be the status quo or could there be a fresh player on the U.K.'s 4G scene to shake things up a bit? A new mobile operator in the country would be exciting, for sure, but I don't think it's very likely.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
More Blogs from Wireless Bits
Undercuts Huawei and ZTE in China Mobile 4G tender
CTO says vendor is seeking insight and inspiration from developer competitions
After a few months away, Sarah Reedy is back on the Light Reading team
Four new focus areas for NGMN Alliance highlight the key challenges facing mobile network operators in 2013
9:00 AM Smartphones have bigger mobile data appetites than tablets in Europe
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders recently visited the University of North Carolina Charlotte (UNCC) where Cisco's Tetration application is providing data center analytics, simplifying SDN, helping with cloud migration and overseeing white-list security policy.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 28, 2018, Kansas City Convention Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
April 9, 2018, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Likens DoJ Suit to Shaved Persian Cat
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 3/12/2018
Trump Blocks Broadcom's Qualcomm Acquisition
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/12/2018
Rumor Mill: SoftBank Still Eyeing Charter
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 3/12/2018
Eurobites: BT Hires Sherman as Strategy Tank
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/14/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed