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Ofcom further delays 4G spectrum auction for extended consultation

Jenny Williams

Regulatory body Ofcom will further delay the auction of 4G spectrum to late 2012 to allow for an extended consultation period.

Ofcom announced a delay to the auction of the 800Mhz and 2.6Ghz spectrum bands at the start of September 2011 following a number of technical and competition issues around the sale.

The 4G spectrum was expected to be auctioned in the first three months of 2012, but this was extended by up to three months. Now Ofcom has predicted the auction will take place at the start of the fourth quarter of 2012.

In a statement, Ofcom said it had received a number of "substantial and strongly argued responses" to its consultation between March and May 2011. Mobile operators O2, Three, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere have all identified issues with the proposals according to how much spectrum each currently holds.

"In light of these responses, and the significance of the decisions that we need to take - decisions that are likely to shape the future of the mobile sector in the UK for the next decade or more - we have decided to undertake a further round of consultation on these issues," said Ofcom's statement.

Ofcom confirmed the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands will not be available for new use in the UK until late 2013, which means the extended consultation will have limited impact on the availability of new mobile services to consumers.

"Nevertheless it continues to be our aim to award this spectrum as quickly as possible," Ofcom added.

The regulator plans to publish a further consultation document at the end of 2011. After a statement is published in the summer of 2012, Ofcom expects the auction to follow a "few months later - perhaps starting in Q4 2012".


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