4G Spectrum Auction Delayed

Last March we reported on Ofcom’s announcement of a consultation process getting under way

regarding the best way to dole out the 4G spectrum. It was a positive move, but

news today that the auction to sell off the spectrum has been delayed, is less encouraging.

The UK is

already lagging behind a lot of other European countries (Sweden and Germany) as well as the US and Japan in

providing a next generation mobile network and Ofcom has now confirmed that the

largest ever spectrum auction has been delayed.

While a trial is due to begin in South Newquay this month of an LTE network, a national 4G

network is still years away.


Ofcom was expected to publish the terms of the auction this

month but that document has now been delayed until November. “We are still

aiming for the first half of next year. However, we have always maintained it

is an ambitious timescale,” an Ofcom spokesman said. The auction had been

due to take place in the first quarter of 2012.

This delay will be of most concern to Three as the other major mobile

operators (O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere) have spare spectrum which

they can reallocate from making phone calls to data activities such as internet

access – and therefore meet the growing needs as more and more people use their mobile phone and tablets to access the internet.

Three has no spare spectrum to allocate and will run out of

capacity a lot quicker than its rivals – especially as Three is the last

operator to offer truly unlimited data packages.

With the auction delayed, successful bidders will only be

able to roll out 4G services toward the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.

The government will want to move this process forward as fast as possible,

since it promised blanket broadband coverage across the UK by the time of the next election.

With fibre and copper connections unlikely to be able to

reach many rural areas by that stage, next generation mobile broadband could be

the answer.

Logo - LTE

The Ofcom spokesman added: “This is a complex area, involving a large

number of technical and competition issues that we need to consider and resolve

before finalising proposals. For example, a very high proportion of households

in the UK

rely on Digital Terrestrial TV – Freeview – which needs to be relocated before

4G can be rolled out.”

“We note that because these technical issues need to be satisfactorily

resolved before new networks can be built, it will not be possible for mobile

operators to start rolling out 4G networks until 2013 at the earliest

regardless of when the auction itself actually takes place.”

Via: Guardian