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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

4G Will Be Widespread in the UK

Ofcom has set the ball rolling for widespread adoption of 4G in the United Kingdom, promising to conduct the largest ever auction of spectrum for mobile services by the end of 2012. 

The auction in question will offer the equivalent of 3/4 of the mobile spectrum in use these days – around 80% more than released in the 3G auction in 2000. The government body hopes that its best laid plans will ensure that mobile broadband will be rolled out to at least 98% of rural habitants, towns and cities across the United Kingdom, which it says should create many advantages for citizens and consumers.

In order to make sure that consumers still benefit from a competitive market, Ofcom will reserve some of the available spectrum for a 4th national wholesaler other than the top 3 mobile operators – either Hutchison 3G or a new entrant altogether.

In short words, the 4G auction will offer at least 2 spectrum bands – 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. The former is part of what the government describes as the “digital dividend”, which is said to be ideal for widespread mobile coverage, while the latter will be used to deliver the capacity required for faster speeds.

Altogether, these two bands total to 250 MHz of extra mobile spectrum, if compared to 333 MHz used these days. Meanwhile, the spectrum bands will be auctioned to bidders in a series of lots, with one of the 800 MHz lots of spectrum carrying an obligation to ensure a mobile broadband service for indoor reception to at least 98% of users in 5 years.

Thus far, mobile operators are expected to start rolling out 4G networks through the auctioned spectrum from the middle of the next year, and to start offering 4G services to the public later in 2013.

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