Consumers in the UK have long had to make do with a 3G mobile service that can sometimes be patchy, but a 4G service has recently become available from carrier EE. The service is only available in a number of cities around the country and the pricing for the available 4G talk plans is rather high, but this is likely to change as more carriers provide a similar service as now Ofcom has revealed the bidders for the upcoming UK 4G LTE auction.
The country’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced that there will be seven companies bidding in the UK’s 4G spectrum auction that will take place early next year. It is hoped that services will begin to be switched on by the summer of 2013, and includes the likes of Vodafone and O2 owners Telefonica UK Limited among the bidders.
Other bidders include Everything Everywhere that is the only carrier to currently offer a 4G service to UK consumers, MLL Telecom Ltd, HKT Company Limited, and Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited. The latter are a BT Group subsidiary while HKT are subsidiary of PCCW Limited that is a Hong Kong based Telecoms Company.
There are two spectrum bands on offer with the 800MHz band that has become available after the analogue TV signal was switched off earlier this year, and is more suited to broad mobile coverage. The 2.8GHz band meanwhile has the advantage of speed and according to Ofcom the new spectrum will increase the country’s mobile capacity by a further 75%.
The regulator is also suggesting the spectrum will be ideal for heavy use in cities along with being more cost effective, and there will be widespread deployment in more rural areas. The other carriers will be looking to catch up EE that has got a head start deploying a 4G service in the country, but the subsidiary brands of the company, Orange and T-Mobile, don’t currently offer a 4G service.
Ofcom allowed EE to offer a service early as it felt customers would benefit but this decision got an angry response from the other carriers, and even saw O2 and Vodafone to team up to build a 4G network. Many UK consumers have yet to sign up to EE’s service down to pricing or lack of coverage in their area, but we should see prices become more competitive once more networks are up and running.