4G mobile airspace auction to be biggest ever
Tablet and smartphone users will have access to super-fast 4G services by the end of next year after the telecoms regulator unveiled new plans for the UK's largest ever auction of airspace for mobile services.
It will give access to the fourth generation, or 4G, network, to at least 98% of people across the UK, which will allow users to download data - such as music and high-definition films - at much faster speeds, Ofcom said.
The auction will offer the equivalent of three-quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use - some 80% more than released during the 3G auction which took place in 2000.
The minimum sum of proposed reserve prices for the whole 4G auction is £1.4bn - but it is expected to raise much more after the 3G sale pulled in a staggering £22.5bn from mobile companies.
Ofcom said it expects the auction process to start before the end of this year.
Mobile operators are expected to start rolling out 4G networks using the auctioned spectrum from the middle of 2013, and to start offering 4G services to consumers sometime later that year, Ofcom added.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: "The 4G auction has been designed to deliver the maximum possible benefit to consumers and citizens right across the UK.
"As a direct result of the measures Ofcom is introducing, consumers will be able to surf the web, stream videos and download e-mail attachments on their mobile device from almost every home in the UK."