The government has given the go-ahead to an auction of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz radio spectrums that will allow mobile networks to offer 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) services.
The auction, which will be overseen by Ofcom, is expected to take place at the end of 2011.
"We want the UK market to remain at the fore of delivering services like the iPad and smartphones but they need the networks to continue to improve and increase services," said Communications Minister Ed Vaizey.
"Under our plans, our mobile industry will have access to the 21st Century infrastructure it needs to give UK consumers the latest technologies and even better coverage for broadband on their mobile phones."
Ofcom can now begin setting out guidelines to ensure all operators are treated equally and the auction does not harm competition in the market.
See also: 4G auction to happen within a year?