Ofcom unveils 4G auction plans


Operators have less than a month to submit applications for 4G licences, and will find out early next year whether they have been successful

Operators have until December 11 to submit applications for 4G spectrum, Ofcom announced today.

The telecoms regulator also confirmed reserve prices for the spectrum will total £1.3 billion. The auction is expected to raise between £3 and £4 billion in total.

Ofcom has set a timetable, to be confirmed in the coming weeks, for when operators like O2, Vodafone, EE and Three can apply for licences and start bidding.

In early December operators will submit applications for spectrum together with an initial deposit.

Ofcom will review the applications during December and decide who can go on to bid in the auction by January.

Bidding will begin in January and is expected to take a number of weeks. Bids will be placed over the internet using software developed specifically for the auction, Ofcom says.

Operators will find out in February or March whether their applications have been successful and how much spectrum they have won and at what cost.

Ofcom expects 4G services using the auctioned spectrum will be launched in May or June next year.

EE is currently the only operator offering the services, after Ofcom granted it permission to use its existing spectrum to do so earlier this year.