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Ofcom reveals which UK networks will be bidding for a slice of the 4G spectrum

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UK regulator Ofcom has revealed which UK mobile network providers will be bidding for a slice of the 4G spectrum, come next year when the auction starts.

As we had expected, the major UK networks are all on board. EE is already providing a 4G service in the UK, but its parent company Everything Everywhere will be bidding in order to bring 4G to its other networks, Orange and T-Mobile.

Three, O2 and Vodafone will all be bidding in next year’s auction, with the latter already expressing plans to pool hardware and infrastructure in order to roll out a huge country-wide 4G network between them. The full list of companies bidding in the auction is as follows:

  • Everything Everywhere Limited (UK) (T-Mobile, Orange)
  • HKT (UK) Company Limited (a subsidiary of PCCW Limited)
  • Hutchison 3G UK Limited (Three)
  • MLL Telecom Ltd
  • Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (a subsidiary of BT Group plc)
  • Telefónica UK Limited (O2)
  • Vodafone Limited

There are a couple of names in there that most people won’t have heard of before, and that’s not a bad thing. Niche Spectrum Ventures are a smaller network owned by BT, who will presumably be looking to offer wireless broadband services alongside BT’s fixed line offers.

MLL Telecom already own some of the current 3G spectrum and provide both fixed and wireless internet services in the UK, and finally HKT – formerly known as Hong Kong Telephone Company Limited – is a top telecommunications provider in Hong Kong. We’re not sure why they’re in the auction just yet, but perhaps a new 4G network could be in the works for the UK.

These companies will all be bidding for the right to broadcast 4G services on two frequencies; 800MHz and 2.6GHz. If a company succeeds in securing a section of either spectrum they can then move forward in launching a 4G network. Ofcom expects the first 4G networks, asides from EE of course, to launch by summer of next year.