Ofcom has announced the winners of the 4G mobile spectrum auction, which will allow more network providers to offer superfast 4G mobile broadband to their customers.
Currently, Everything Everywhere (EE) is the only 4G network provider, but will soon be joined by the four auction winners – Hutchinson 3G UK who own Three, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a BT Group subsidiary), O2 Telefonica and Vodafone.
“This is a positive outcome for competition in the UK, which will lead to faster and more widespread mobile broadband, and substantial benefits for consumers and businesses across the country,” said Ed Richards, Chief Executive at Ofcom. “We are confident that the UK will be among the most competitive markets in the world for 4G services.”
Customers can expect a whole host of 4G tariffs from the new 4G operators within six months, with nearly the whole UK population expected to receive 4G coverage by the end of 2017 “at the latest” according to a statement released by Ofcom.
“4G coverage will extend far beyond that of existing 3G services, covering 98 per cent of the UK population indoors - and even more when outdoors – which is good news for parts of the country currently underserved by mobile broadband,” added Richards.
Existing 4G network provider EE was given expanded bandwidth as part of the auction, having already planned to roll out the 4G signal to over half the UK population by June.
“EE is extremely pleased with the outcome of the spectrum auction,” said Chief Executive of EE, Olaf Swantee. “Coupled with our existing 1800MHz 4G network, it consolidates our position as the most advanced, largest and most capable 4G operator in the UK.”
“This result means that we are perfectly placed to meet future data capacity demands – further enhancing the superfast 4G services we already offer the UK’s consumers and businesses,” added Swantee.
The auction raised £2.34 billion for the taxpayer, but failed to meet the £3.5billion target set by the Government.
When it comes to 4G tariff prices, EE has already set the bar with a premium cost for its 4GEE pay monthly contracts, starting at £31 per month for a lowly 500MB on the data munching 4G network.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com is interested to see how EE prices will compare to 4G tariffs launched by the auction winning network providers.
"EE, who have been the sole provider of 4G since October, have been in the unenviable position of setting their prices in a vacuum - it will be interesting to see their reaction to competition entering the LTE market,” said Doku.
"Consumers will be hoping for a race to the bottom on pricing - especially following Three’s pledge to not charge a premium for 4G - but factoring in the cost of a new superfast handset should be considered when making the leap to 4G.”
The 4G mobile broadband signal runs approximately five times faster than 3G, allowing users to utilise the online features of their smart devices more rapidly and easily while on the move, using 4G LTE enabled smartphones like the BlackBerry Z10 and recently released HTC One.
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