Ofcom has confirmed that it has delayed the auction of the 4G spectrum to allow for further consultation.
With the UK already lagging behind a lot of other countries in terms of getting a 4G network operable, this latest news will no doubt anger some. However, Ofcom believes that the delay will have no real impact on when we finally get a 4G network here in the UK.
Last March, Ofcom announced it was beginning a consultation process to establish the best way to sell off the rights to the next generation mobile network. The auction, which now won’t begin until late 2012, will be the largest ever seen in the UK and will be comparable to three quarters of the current mobile spectrum.
"We received a number of substantial and strongly argued responses to this consultation," said Ofcom in a statement. It believes that further consultation is necessary due to the importance of the auction which will "likely to shape the future of the mobile sector in the UK for the next decade or more."
One network which could be angered by the delay is Three, which unlike its main rivals, is quickly running out of room on its portion of the 3G network and would like to see the 4G network up and running as soon as possible. A 4G network promises greater download speeds for mobile users compared to current 3G speeds (seen above).
On the other hand, Vodafone seems to be happy with the decision to delay the auction: "We agree with Ofcom that there is time for reflection given that the spectrum will not be available until 2013. It is very important to get the rules right to ensure that the roll-out of 4G services benefits consumers and the wider economy," it told the BBC.
Last week we reported that a trial got underway in Cornwall to see if a 4G mobile network could be used as a viable alternative to fixed-line broadband in regions where coverage is poor.
Whenever the auction finally takes place, we’re unlikely to get a working 4G network in the UK until late 2013 at the earliest, which by that stage will be more than three years behind some other countries.