Road clears for 4G auction as digital switchover completed


The regulator has welcomed the completion of the switchover to digital TV, which it says frees up much needed spectrum for 4G services

Ofcom said today the transition from analogue to digital terrestrial TV has been successfully completed, paving the way for 4G mobile broadband.

The UK telecoms regulator said: “The switchover to digital has freed up much needed capacity that will be used to deliver the fourth generation (4G) of mobile services.

“At the end of 2012, Ofcom will start the process of auctioning the Digital Dividend, the airwaves previously occupied by analogue television.”

Its chief executive, Ed Richards, said: “Now that switchover is complete, Ofcom is looking forward to delivering the 4G auction as the next step in delivering new higher speed mobile broadband services.”

The auction process is expected to start at the end of this year, with licences for 4G spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz being awarded in early 2013.

Today’s announcement means that when the licences are awarded to operators, expected to include O2, Vodafone, Three and EE, there should not be a great time lag between them receiving the spectrum and being able to use it for 4G.