Regulator takes a crucial step in strategy to manage spectrum.
Ofcom has invited organisations to bid for spectrum being released for civilian use by the Ministry of Defence.
Ofcom said the MoD is releasing 190MHz of radio spectrum for commercial uses. This is equivalent to three-quarters of the 4G spectrum auctioned by Ofcom to operators in February 2013.
The bandwidth is situated in two places on the spectrum, one between 2.3 and 2.4GHz and the other between 3.4 and 3.6GHz.
The regulator has asked firms to submit possible use cases for the bandwidth, which are all below 5GHz. It said this part of the spectrum is regarded as "particularly attractive in supporting a wide range of potential consumer applications. It said that releasing these frequencies for 4G mobile broadband could potentially lead to improved 4G competition and capacity in the UK.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said the sale would be a "very significant next step forward in Ofcom’s long-term strategy for managing spectrum".
"Over the next decade we will see a revolution in the way that people connect to the internet, driven by the ability to wirelessly access the internet at super-fast speeds. 4G is likely to open up a new wave of wireless innovation that will deliver considerable benefits to society and the UK’s digital economy," said Richards.
“However this development will also place huge demands on the UK’s wireless infrastructure. Releasing MoD spectrum onto the commercial marketplace is an important step in helping to meet this extraordinary demand.”
Ofcom expects the spectrum to be awarded in the financial year 2015-16. It added that organisations with a potential interest in the spectrum should respond by 27 November.