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Seven firms to bid in UK’s “largest ever” spectrum auctions


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Matt Ablott

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The UK regulator has revealed the names of seven bidders that will take part in the country’s 4G auctions next month.

Ofcom said that local operators EE, Telefonica, Vodafone and 3 will participate – joined by a BT subsidiary known as Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited; HKT, a unit of Hong Kong operator PCCW; and MLL Telecom, a UK-based network supplier.

Airwaves are up for grabs in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands with a combined 250 MHz of additional mobile spectrum being made available, compared to 333 MHz in use today. Ofcom described it as “the largest ever sale of mobile airwaves in the UK.”

It has put a £1.3 billion reserve price on spectrum, while the UK government is targeting a total windfall of £3.5 billion.

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 1800 MHz spectrum it already held. It plans to be live in 18 cities by year-end, and 35 by the end of March next year.

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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