UK networks claim 4G spectrum as auction closes

by Kenny Hemphill on February 20, 2013

Ofcom’s auction of the 800MHz spectrum previously used for analogue Freeview TV has ended with all four of the UK’s mobile operators, plus BT making successful bids.

While the big story as far as the Government was concerned was a shortfall of £1.2bn in projected revenue, UK mobile phone users will be relieved that progress is being made on rolling out 4G networks nationwide and providing competition for EE’s current 4G offering.

As expected, EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone all made successful bids for spectrum and The Guardian reported that O2′s £550m share came with a universal service obligation meaning it has to ensure its network can be accessed indoors by 98% of the population and 95% of people in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

The Guardian also reported that following the auction, EE has 36% of the UK’s mobile spectrum, Vodafone 23%, O2 15%, and Three 12%. BT now has 9% but doesn’t plan to use it to offer a mobile phone service to customers. It will instead use its spectrum to augment its landline services.

None of the operators, aside from EE, has announced details of its plans, but Three said recently that it would not charge customers extra for access to 4G. EE came under criticism last year when it launched a 4G service which was seen as expensive with restrictive data caps.

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