Bandwidth for 4G mobile broadband is being auctioned off next month with licences due to be granted in March 2013. 4G services are estimated to become available around May or June next year, the auction is set to increase the availability of mobile airwaves by 75%. The telephones regulator, Ofcom, has named the seven bidders for the bandwidth as:
- Everything Everywhere (EE), who already have the UK’s first 4G service using existing bandwidth, launched on 30 October.
- PCCW, a major Hong Kong telecoms conglomerate, operating through its subsidiary HKT.
- Hutchison Whampoa, another Hong Kong conglomerate and operator of the 3 network.
- MLL Telecom, a telecom network supplier founded in 1992 and based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.
- BT, via its subsidiary “Niche Spectrum Ventures”.
- Telefonica, the Spanish incumbent telecoms company that owns the O2 network.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, claimed “New 4G services will stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the UK, and deliver significant benefits to consumers in terms of better, faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections”. Ofcom have also claimed that download speeds can be expected to be up to 7 times faster than existing 3G networks.
Currently the sole provider of 4G in the UK, Everything Everywhere, have said they will be bidding to expand their recently launched service. Possibly the result of recent criticism directed towards their “patchy” and “unreliable” service.
The additional bandwidth being bid on is useful to operators, as individual 4G services take up a bigger chunk of the spectrum than earlier mobile telephony, although 4G is also more versatile in the range of bandwidths that it can operate within.