TELECOMS regulator Ofcom yesterday said that the auction of licences to run fast 4G mobile networks will be held before the end of this year, enabling services to be rolled out by the middle of 2013.
Countries such as the United States already have 4G networks offering high-speed mobile broadband connections capable of data-hungry tasks such as streaming video.
But the UK has lagged behind thanks to legal wranglings over the quality of the spectrum that is up for sale and competition concerns. Ofcom fought hard to ensure that space was reserved for a fourth national provider, probably Three, despite claims that such an action could constitute state aid.
Analysts at PwC said they expected the auction to raise “up to £3bn-£4bn” for the UK Treasury.
EverythingEverywhere, owner of T-Mobile and Orange, said yesterday that it is still seeking Ofcom’s permission to bring 4G connections to the UK in 2011 by exploiting space on its existing 2G network.