UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom has outlined the process by which most of the country's operators will get to bid on spectrum for use with 4G LTE mobile services. The long-delayed 800MHz and 2600MHz auction process will begin next month, with a December deadline for submissions, followed by bidding next January, ahead of an eventual 4G roll-out on these frequencies in May or June.
Reserve prices for the spectrum auction reportedly total £1.3 billion ($2.07 billion). By comparison, the auction of 3G bands back in 2000 netted £22.47 billion for the uK government, although the eventual amount raised by the 4G sale isn't expected to be anywhere near as high.
The UK's largest carrier, EE (Everything Everywhere, formerly Orange + T-Mobile), recently launched 4G services on re-farmed 1800MHz spectrum, prompting an acceleration of the bidding process on 800MHz and 2600MHz bands. However, EE's plans have been criticized due to their high price compared to rival 3G/HSPA networks. With O2, Vodafone and Three each likely to walk away with a slice of 4G spectrum in next year's auction, the resulting competition should help to drive down prices across the board.