Ofcom has started to receive applications from mobile operators to take part in the auctions for 4G spectrum in the New Year with a reserve price of £1.3bn in place for the new frequencies.
The deadline of 11 December was set in November, with operators able to submit their interest to Ofcom by 4pm on Tuesday to take part in the auctions for spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.
Vodafone, O2, EE and Three are the most likely firms to submit bids, although outside interest from the likes of BT, Sky or even Virgin Media could emerge.
V3 contacted all the firms above for comment on the submission deadline and if they intended to enter but had received no reply at time of publication.
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said the move to 4G services should help push the UK's mobile landscape forward rapidly.
"We have fired the starting gun on the 4G auction process. The 4G auction will release crucial capacity to support future growth, helping to boost UK productivity, innovation and drive significant improvements to mobile broadband availability across the UK," he said.
Ofcom will now review the applications to ensure all bidders are fit for the auction. This will involve carrying out a range of checks, from ensuring the information submitted is correct through to ensuring that there is no overlap between applications, which could distort the auction.
The government has set a reserve price of £1.3bn for the services, although in his recent Autumn Statement chancellor George Osborne said he had already banked on £3.5bn being raised.
This would be far lower than the staggering £22.5bn raised for 3G spectrum in 2000.
Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal.