Ofcom has announced plans to free up the largest ever single portion of mobile spectrum, as it prepares for the long-awaited 4G auction in 2012.
Ofcom said that the plans, which are currently up for consultation, would see it release 80 per cent more space than it did for the 3G auction in 2000.
The regulator explained that the auction will help the UK to meet increasing demands on mobile networks, and serve the growing number of video streaming, mobile, email and messenger services as well as mapping and social networking sites.
"The auction is not only critical to the future of the UK mobile telecommunications market, but is of significant importance to the wider economy," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.
"It will support a wide range of data services that are fast becoming essential features of the modern world."
Ofcom wants to increase competition while freeing up mobile space, and Richards added that the organisation hopes to carry out the auction in a way that will benefit mobile operators and end users.
"Our role as the independent regulator is to award this spectrum in a way that secures the best use of the spectrum for the benefit of citizens and consumers in the UK," he said.
"That is why we are proposing to design the auction in a way that not only encourages investment, but promotes competition and delivers wide coverage of services."
Ofcom is keen to get the consultation finished soon in order to help the rollout of 4G services, and expects to begin the auction in 2012.
The availability of 4G services will increase mobile coverage to 95 per cent of the UK population, Ofcom said, and will see mobile operators bid on two spectrum bands, 800MHz and 2.6GHz, the first of which is being freed up by the UK analogue switch off.
This will combine with the higher frequency to provide the increased high-speed coverage.
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