Ofcom sets out 4G spectrum auction timetable
Regulator gives operators until 11 December to submit auction applications, and expects to raise at least £1.3bn during the process.
Ofcom has provisionally given mobile operators until 11 December to submit their applications to take part in the upcoming 4G network auction.
The regulator plans to introduce rules governing how 4G licences will be awarded on 23 November, and will confirm the December submissions deadline around this time.
The organisation also revealed the auction could raise at least £1.3 billion.
Once the application deadline passes, Ofcom will grant permission for successful candidates to bid in the auction, which is expected to take place in January.
Operators will be invited to submit their bids via a secure internet connection, using software that has been specifically developed for the auction.
The bid winners will then be notified in February or March, and licenses will be granted shortly after.
4G services from a range of network providers are then expected to go live in May or June 2013.
At present, EE is the only UK mobile operator offering 4G to customers, after it was granted permission by Ofcom to reuse part of its 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver the service back in August.
The move prompted anger from its rivals, who will have to wait for the outcome of the 4G auction to rollout their own 4G networks.
Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, said the announcement marks an important milestone in the wide-scale deployment of 4G services across the UK.
“The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers,” said Richards.