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Ofcom finalises 4G LTE auction plans

Rival EE 4G networks to go live from May 2013

4G smartphone

Mobile regulator Ofcom has announced the timetable and regulation for the UK's 4G mobile spectrum auction.

We've already got 4G in the UK courtesy of EE but the remaining mobile operators will get their chance to obtain 4G spectrum in Ofcom's upcoming auction. It will be the 'largest ever sale of mobile airwaves' in the UK, according to Ofcom. See also: 4G vs 3G network hands-on speed test.

Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, said: "Today marks an important shift from preparation to the delivery of the auction, which will see widespread 4G mobile services from a range of providers."

"The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers."

Ofcom has set a combined reserve for the 4G spectrum at £1.3bn. Applications from operators such as O2 and Vodafone will be able to be submitted, with a deposit, on a provisional date of 11 December.

What is 4G? A complete guide to 4G

Applications will be reviewed in December to decide who can bid in the auction which will begin in January and 'could take a number of weeks' as bids will be placed online using software specifically designed for the auction.

In February/March bidders will be informed what they have won along with a bill. This will also be when license fees are paid and licenses are granted.

The all-important launch of rival 4G LTE services to EE will come in May or June, according to Ofcom.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.

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