Ofcom defends 4G results

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Ofcom says ensuring competitive pricing of 4G services for consumers is its priority, after auction revenues fail to meet expectations

Ofcom has defended the results of its auction for 4G licences, saying it was more focused on protecting competition than maximising revenue.

The regulator announced today it raised £2.3 billion from the sale of 250MHz of spectrum allocated for 4G. This is below government estimates of between £3 and £4 billion, and well below the amount raised for 3G bandwidth – £22.4 billion.

But Ofcom said today it was pleased with the result, as it means there will be five providers (Three, O2, Vodafone, EE and BT) in the UK’s 4G market. It had hoped for a minimum of four to ensure services were competitively priced.

Ofcom said: “The key thing for us is that there are now five parties in the market for the first time. This is quite significant and we are happy with the outcome. We weren’t concentrating on price, we are focused more on competition.

“Because of this we should see more innovation and lower prices for consumers.”

It added total revenue will grow marginally from the £2.34 billion already secured as, over the next few weeks, it is decided exactly where in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands the winners’ spectrum will fall.

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