Yet More Waiting, Ofcom Confirms Delayed 4G Auction for 2013

By Sam Gibbs on at

Bad news yet again for those of us craving the sweet, blazing speeds of 4G in the UK. Ofcom's finally confirmed its plans for the delayed 4G roll out and as anticipated, you're going to have to wait a good while yet for your taste of LTE. The auction will go ahead as planned from back in January, but not until 2013.

It was originally anticipated that the 4G-spectrum auction would be done and dusted by the end of this year, but Ofcom's now confirmed we're not even going to see the start of bidding until early next year. That essentially sets us back at least six months on our previous estimates, meaning we'll be lucky to actually see 4G rolled out nationwide before the end of next year.

Ofcom reckons that we'll at least find out who's actually up for a 4G bidding war, as networks will have to register for the auction before 2012 is out. For the most part we already know who's likely to want in on the 4G roll out, but we could see a few surprises. Rumours of Virgin wanting its own LTE network might prove to be a little off base, but who knows -- we could see even more mobile networks thanks to LTE.

For what it's worth there's quite a bit of spectrum up for grabs in both the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, which totals up to 250MHz worth of frequency space. To put that in perspective, there's only 333MHz currently in use today, and it's 80 per cent more than was offered for 3G. More spectrum hopefully means more coverage, more competition and more data flung down the wireless pipe to you at super speeds.

Still, it's a bit disappointing to hear we're going to have to wait so long. The 4G auction was originally set to take place in early 2012, not 2013. Oh well, don't hold your breath on getting LTE on your phone before 2013 is out. You might be lucky, but I have a feeling that unless Ofcom blesses Everything Everywhere's early-4G plan, we'll be waiting quite a while yet. [Ofcom]

Image credit: Mobile masts from Shutterstock