Seven UK 4G bidders to include O2, Three, Vodafone and BT

A total of seven companies have applied to bid for newly available 4G spectrum in the UK, regualtor Ofcom has confirmed.

With the new spectrum to be used for 4G mobile broadband services from summer 2013, some of the spectrum (the 800MHz band) is becoming available because of the removal of analogue TV channels during the recent digital switchover. This lower frequency is seen as highly desirable as signals can travel further and reach more effectively inside buildings compared to some of the other frequencies being used for 4G.

Vodafone has previously made it clear that it is eyeing up parts of the 800MHz band for this reason. The company is one of the seven whose application has been approved by the regulator Ofcom, meaning that they are qualified to bid in the auction process, which is due to start in January 2013.

The other companies are EE (which already runs a service on different frequencies in parts of the UK), Hutchinson (owners of the Three brand), Telefonica UK (O2), Niche Spectrum Ventures (a subsidiary of BT), MLL Telecom and HKT UK.

MLL Telecom runs some fixed and wireless services in the UK and already operates in part of the existing mobile spectrum. HKT stands for the Hong Kong Telephone Company, which is part of PCCW and connected to the UK Broadband company, a provider of 4G in London, Reading, Swindon and Scunthorpe.

The higher frequency 2.6 GHz band is also part of the auction, which is best suited for delivering high capacity networks in densely populated areas.

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