While EE is currently enjoying a lengthy head start on the competition, UK regulator Ofcom has decided when the 4G spectrum will be auctioned off to other networks.
Other UK mobile networks such as Vodafone and O2 will be required to submit their applications to provide 4G services before December 11th and bidding will start early on in January 2013. Hopeful networks will then have to wait until around March time to find out whether or not their application has been successful.
Networks will be required to shell out a minimum £1.3 billion in order to earn the right to broadcast 4G signal and sell compatible products, and we’re presuming that a higher bid will score a larger chunk of the spectrum.
Once a network’s application has been approved they’ll need to pay fees in order to receive the relevant licenses. It’s expected that the whole process will take several months, with the first 4G networks expected to launch early summer time.
This of course means that EE will have enjoyed a good 8 or 9 months of being the only 4G provider in the UK, at least. It’s unclear if Orange and T-Mobile, the other networks under the ‘EE’ umbrella, will also provide 4G networks. In some ways this would make sense, but in others it could confuse the consumer and end up taking custom away from the 4G EE network.
O2 and Vodafone have already confirmed plans to team up and work together in order to spread a 4G network as far across the country and as soon as possible. That leaves Three, who has confirmed plans to launch a 4G network of its own.
We’re certainly excited at the prospect of competition in the 4G market here, as EE’s tariffs are currently far too high. Are you looking forward to the wave of 4G hitting the UK?