UK regulator Ofcom has announced the 4G winners of its spectrum auction in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands. After more than 50 rounds of bidding, the winners are: EE, Hutchison 3G (Three), BT subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures, Telefonica (O2) and Vodafone.
Ofcom said the auction only brought in £2.4 billion pounds, less than the £3.5 billion it had anticipated. Telecom companies MLL Telecom and HKT, which qualified for the bidding, came up empty. Interestingly, Vodafone — headed by CEO Vittorio Colao who famously suggested only “technofreaks” were into 4G speed — spent the most, notes Engadget.
Ofcom obligated one of the 800 MHz bands, won by Telefónica UK, to provide a mobile broadband service for indoor reception to at least 98% of the UK population (at least 99% outdoors), and at least 95% of the population of each of the UK nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – by the end of 2017 at the latest.
In August 2012, Ofcom approved an application by the mobile phone operator Everything Everywhere (EE) to use its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver 4G services. EE’s brief monopoly hasn’t brought home the bacon. EE, which has more than 26 million customers, said it would continue to “rapidly” roll out 4G with the network expected to cover 65 towns and cities and 55 per cent of the population by June.
The group’s rivals – including O2, Three and Vodafone – may now deliver some real 4G competition beginning this spring.
Currently, only Everything Everywhere offers LTE service in the U.K., using their refarmed 1800 MHz band. Competing mobile operators Telefónica UK (O2), Vodafone UK and 3 will be able to start playing catch-up with rival Everything Everywhere.
The UK has decided to break the 190 MHz-wide band of 2.6 GHz frequencies into two groups, 140 MHz of paired frequencies and 50 MHz of unpaired.
United Kingdom has a total of 80 million subscribers, with a 130.55% penetration rate. Mobile operators in the UK include:
- Everything Everywhere: 27.2 million subs, owned by France Télécom aka Orange (50%) and Deutsche Telekom (50%).
- O2: 22.3 million subs, owned by Telefónica, a Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider
- Vodafone: 19.2 million subs, owned by Vodafone, headquartered in London.
- 3: 8.2 million subs, owned by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa
The 50-50 venture of Vodafone and Telefónica will encompass a combined 18,500 cell tower masts, an increase of roughly 40 percent for each operator. Telefónica already shares its network with Vodafone in Spain and with T-Mobile in the Czech Republic.
Related Dailywireless articles include; UK Begins 800/2.6GHz Auction Process, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, Ofcom: LTE This Year for Everything, Everywhere, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, UK Spectrum Auction: Delayed Again?, UK Spectrum Auction: Legal Threat from 02UK?, UK Delays 4G Auction, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction, German 4G Auction: It’s Done,