Back in October, 4G was launched across the UK but only for users of Everything Everywhere. EE who owned both Orange and T-Mobile in the UK have gone through a complete re-branding process since the launch.
This week Ofcom have invited other UK networks to apply for a share of 4G, which were submitted on December 11th 2012. Those who wanted to bid for a share had to do so in writing, along with a £100,000 deposit. Now that this deadline has passed, the process can begin which will lead to the spectrum auction in either February or March 2013.
The UK’s biggest mobile networks want the auction to happen asap as the UK is now lagging behind the world’s most advanced 4G networks. By the time the auction takes place, most of the latest high-end handsets will support 4G technology. Huge marketing campaigns are expected to kick into action once the network is opened up.
UK Chancellor George Osbourne has estimated that the UK Treasury will raise £3.5 billion through the 4G auction. Although this is a fantastic sum of money, it is dwarfed by the £22.5 billion raised when 3G was launched in 2000. It is thought the industry will be much more cautious this time around due to the weak economy and declining revenues.
The biggest networks are of course likely to feature, including O2, Vodafone, 3 and EE. These will be joined by media organisations such as SKY, BT and Virgin Media. Though no one can predict if there won’t be any wildcard bids.