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BT to battle UK mobile players for 4G spectrum


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Five UK operators have signed-up to take part in the country’s upcoming 4G auctions, reports the Financial Times.

The four UK mobile networks – EE, O2, Vodafone and 3 – plus fixed-line incumbent BT are said to have lodged their applications with regulator Ofcom ahead of a deadline yesterday, along with an initial £100,000 deposit.

Ofcom has put a £1.3 billion reserve price on the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz licences up for grabs. The UK government is targeting a total windfall of £3.5 billion. BT is said to be only interested in the less sought after 2.6 GHz frequencies, while the mobile players are likely to concentrate bidding efforts on the more valuable 800 MHz ‘digital dividend’ band.

The regulator plans to announce the names of all successful applicants before the end of the year or early in the New Year. Bidding will then start in January 2013 and is likely to take place over “a number of weeks” before the final result of the auction is known.

UK number-one operator EE has already launched its 4G LTE network after Ofcom allowed it to repurpose spectrum it already held. It plans to be live in 16 cities by Christmas.

Operators launching services using the new airwaves are expected to be in a position to do so by Spring 2013, some five months earlier than originally planned.

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