Last we heard, Ofcom had “fired the starting gun” on the UK 4G auction process, with a deadline of 4pm on December 11 for applicants to stick their names down alongside a £100,000 deposit.
This morning, Ofcom announced the list of organisations who have successfully “qualified to bid in the auction”, with seven names in total – some familiar, some not so much.
For starters, each of the Big Four is present, so that’s O2, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) and Hutchison 3G (Three Mobile).
At this stage you’re inevitably thinking: ‘What the hey? Who are the other three bidders?’
They are HKT UK (as in Hong Kong Telecom, a subsidiary of PCCW), MLL Telecoms (which has “almost 20 years of experience designing, installing, managing and maintaining backhaul links and wide area networks”), and finally BT subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited.
The actual 4G bidding process will get underway next month at some point, with the magnificent seven vying for hunks of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum, the former having been freed up by the death of analogue TV.
“The 4G auction will be a competitive process that will dictate the shape of the UK mobile phone market for the next decade and beyond,” croons Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive.
“New 4G services will stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the UK and deliver significant benefits to consumers in terms of better, faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections.”