According to the Ofcom’s Draft 2012/13 Annual Plan, next-generation mobile networks won’t be “widely available” for another three years at least.
The 800MHz band required for 4G is currently being used for terrestrial TV broadcasts, but the digital switchover means it can now be assigned for mobile broadband use.
These spectrums will be auctioned off to the UK’s mobile networks. Initially, Ofcom said the auction would take place at the beginning of 2012. However it has now revised its time-scale and moved the auctions expected start date to midway through the year following the threat of legal action by O2, which claimed auction was illegal under EU law.
O2 believes as itself and Vodafone already own some 900mhz spectrum, Ofcom will ensure a certain amount of new 800mhz spectrum goes to their rivals, but says the two spectrums aren’t directly comparable and the move would give their rivals an advantage when all operators should start with a clean slate.
Ofcom is continuing to claim it will hold the auction for the 800Mhz and 2.6Ghz spectrums in the 2012-2013 financial year, although it’s subject to clearing the spectrums and ensuring the services that use the 800Mhz band are moved to another spectrum.
Mobile networks O2 and Orange are already trialing 4G networks in the UK.