UK GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS REGULATOR Ofcom has started receiving applications from mobile operators to take part in auctions for 4G spectrum next year with a reserve price of £1.3bn for the new frequency bands.
The deadline of 11 December was set in November, with operators able to submit their interest to Ofcom by 4pm on Tuesday to take part in the auctions for spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.
Vodafone, O2, EE and Three are the most likely firms to submit bids, although outside interest from BT, Sky or even Virgin Media could emerge.
The INQUIRER contacted all of these firms for comment on the submission deadline and asked if they intended to enter, but had received no replies at time of publication.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said the move to 4G services should help push the UK's mobile landscape forward rapidly.
"We have fired the starting gun on the 4G auction process. The 4G auction will release crucial capacity to support future growth, helping to boost UK productivity, innovation and drive significant improvements to mobile broadband availability across the UK," he said.
Ofcom will review the applications to ensure that all bidders are fit for the auction. This will involve carrying out a range of checks, from ensuring that the information submitted is correct through to ensuring that there is no overlap between applications that could distort the auction.
The government has set a reserve price of £1.3bn for the services, although in his recent Autumn Statement chancellor George Osborne said he had already banked on £3.5bn being raised.
This will be far lower than the staggering £22.5bn that was raised for 3G spectrum in 2000.