4G Spectrum Auction Delayed

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.