[telegraph] The Government has announced that it will auction off areas of radio spectrum to pave the way for a new generation of mobile broadband services. It is hoped that the sale will take place in late 2011, which means services could begin as soon as 2012.
Launching the “spectrum modernisation”, communications minister Ed Vaizey said: “The past 20 years has seen a revolution in mobile technologies – but we need the networks to continue to improve and increase services. Under our plans, our mobile industry will have access to the 21st Century infrastructure it needs to give UK consumers the latest technologies and even better coverage for broadband on their mobile phones.”
Previous auctions for 3G spectrum have raised billions of pounds, although some analysts have subsequently questioned whether the networks have been able to recoup their investment.
The new areas of spectrum will become available partly as the analogue television signal is replaced with digital broadcasts. In Cornwall, where this has already happened, commercial trials of new high speed mobile broadband are currently taking place.
Ofcom will coordinate a combined auction of 2.1GHz and 800 MHz spectrum “as soon as possible”, the Government has said, after it has carried out “a competitive assessment of future 3G and 4G markets, including the potential for new entrants”.
The existing 2G spectrum at 900 MHz and 1800 MHz will also be freed up for increased use of 3G technologies.
Users who currently require the 800 MHz spectrum had been forewarned that it was going to be used for new purposes; they will now be compensated for the need to invest in new equipment, the Government said.
Government announces spectrum auction for new mobile broadband services