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Bidding begins in the UK 4G auction

Winners to be revealed within weeks
Wed Jan 23 2013, 11:32
Mobile spectrum antenna against sunset

UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom announced today that bidding is underway in the UK's long awaited 4G auction, revealing the names of the seven potential buyers.

The bidders include, besides the big name firms such as O2 and Vodafone, PCCW, the owner of UK Broadband, and MLL Telecoms, a firm that provides public sector spectrum services. Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd, a subsidiary of the BT Group, has also been listed as a bidder in the 4G auction.

The seven companies will be competing for 28 lots of spectrum in two separate bands - 800MHz and 2.6GHz - in order to roll out their own 4G services. The 800MHz band was freed up by the switch off of the analogue TV signal while the 2.6GHz band is "ideal for delivering the capacity needed for faster speeds".

The bidding will take place online, Ofcom has revealed, using software that has been developed specifically for the auction, rather than eBay.

If you're curious as to how the bidding works, Ofcom explained,"At the start of each round Ofcom announces a price for each lot and each bidder then specifies what combination of lots they would most like to win at those prices.

"In each subsequent round Ofcom increases the prices for lots that have excess demand, until eventually demand matches supply. At this point the clock stage ends."

Ofcom chief Ed Richards added, "Today's 4G auction is a very significant milestone for the UK's communications sector.

"It will release the essential raw material for the next wave of mobile digital services. This will change the way we consume digital media in both our personal and working lives and deliver significant benefits to millions of consumers and businesses across the country."

Ofcom said that the winning bidders will be revealed in the coming weeks, but that it will not reveal updates on the bidding until the auction is closed. µ


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