12 Nov 2012, Carly Page , V3
The UK's communications regulator Ofcom has announced its final plans for the upcoming 4G rollout, which is expected to kick off next May.
Although some LTE services in the UK are up and running courtesy of EE, Ofcom has announced that the remaining mobile operators - most notably O2 and Vodafone - will get their chance to bid for 4G spectrum on the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands on 11 December.
Revealing its timeframe for the 4G rollout, Ofcom said that it will determine which firms can go on to bid in the auction later in December, before bidding starts in January 2013. Bidders will be informed of what spectrum they have won in February or March, with new 4G services tipped to start rolling out in May or June.
While some have been hoping that future 4G networks will be cheaper than EE's steep LTE pricing, the prospects look slim. According to Ofcom, the combined total cost for the spectrum being auctioned is an estimated £1.3bn.
"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," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.
"The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers."
While this is good news for those after more choice when it comes to 4G, not everybody is pleased. John Whittingdale, MP for Maldon, complained the 4G launch should be delayed due to the impact it will have on customers' television signals, according to the Daily Mail.
According to Whittingdale, millions of homes, especially those close to 4G base stations, will suffer from interference, be it image distortion or a total lack of service, which could cost up to £10,000 per household to fix.