Following the 2000 3G Auction which raised £22.5 billion, Ofcom has today announced that it is going to auction off 4G spectrum, or airwaves. Ofcom believes this auction will raise more money for the government than its 2000 predecessor but due to the current economic climate, 2000 was in the middle of the dot com bubble, while phone operators claim that the money they spent on the 3G Spectrum actually prevented them from investing in the 3G networks. Subsequently, 3G was not available until 7 years later.
The next generation mobile networks will bring higher speeds via the 4G spectrum. This follows the significant increase in the use of mobile broadband in the UK after the introduction of Smartphones. Mobile data flows are continuing to rise with the increasing popularity and take up of Tablet computers and Smartphones.
Ofcom is hoping the sale will happen early next year, and consists of two blocks of spectrum, making mobile internet coverage wider and faster.
A block of higher frequency 2.6GHz band will make mobile broadband run faster, especially in compact areas such as city centre networks which are liable to congestion making networks run slow. This frequency provides large amounts of data which should ease the congestion.
The 800MHz band which is currently used for analogue television, this will become available for 4G networks next year when the digital switchover is complete. This will bring mobile data services over wide areas catering for rural areas where people may find mobile broadband a better option than fixed line.
Vodafone, O2, Three and Orange/ T-Mobiles Everything Everywhere brand will all end up with enough spectrum to compete nationally. The 4G services are expected to become available in 2013, too late for the London 2012 Olympics with all eyes on the city which would test the capacity of the 4G networks. The UK is already falling behind the USA, Germany, Sweden and Japan have already started to introduce 4G services, Ofcom say it is full speed ahead now. Mobile operators are likely to begin to struggle to cope with increasing data levels through mobile broadband by Smartphone and tablet users before 4G is rolled out.