Ofcom to unveil 4G auction rules and timing tomorrow


CEO Ed Richards expected to set auction for end of this year, but operators will watch the details closely and may decide to pursue legal challenge

Regulator Ofcom will announce timing and details of the 4G spectrum auction tomorrow morning (July 24).

Ofcom CEO Ed Richards (pictured) will unveil the plans, which are expected to schedule an auction for sometime at the end of the year.

The auction will allow operators to bid for 800MHz and 2,100MHz spectrum which can be used to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G services that will deliver significantly faster data speeds to mobile devices and broadband dongles.

However, details of how the auction will be structured will be carefully examined by operators, who could launch legal action against them if they consider the rules to be unfair.

This could lead to further delays to the auction, which has already been put back repeatedly.

Ofcom released its second consultation on the 4G auction at the beginning of this year. The document contains a number of proposals for ways to maintain competition in the market, including protection to ensure that the UK has four viable wholesale mobile operators.

Separately, Ofcom is currently considering a proposal by Everything Everywhere (EE) to re-farm 1,800MHz spectrum it already owns for a 4G service that could launch before the end of 2012.

The proposal is opposed by Vodafone and O2 – who say it would give EE an unfair advantage in the market.