UK GOVERNMENT PLANS to auction off spectrum for 4G services have been delayed to the second quarter of 2012 at the earliest.
This will see the UK, which is already far behind the US for LTE services, fall even farther back.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom was expected to publish terms for the multi-million pound sell off this month. However, after mobile operators including O2 threatened legal action the document will not be ready until November, the Guardian reported, meaning that the auction can no longer kick off in the first quarter of 2012 as planned.
If a court case were to be filed it would delay the roll out of 4G licenses, which would benefit the bigger operators, who already have excess spectrum that they can use for 4G. However, it would mean the smallest operator Three would be at a distinct disadvantage, as it needs to buy spectrum for 4G services.
If the auction takes place on time, mobile operators should be able to roll out 4G by 2013. The government will be keen to stick to the timetable as it has promised universal broadband access by the next election, expected in April 2015, and mobile broadband will need to form part of that plan.
In March, Ofcom announced a timetable alongside a consultation paper on the spectrum auction. µ