Ofcom sets out 4G licensing timeline

UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has set out the timeline for the award of 800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum in the UK, which has been set aside for 4G technologies, most likely LTE.

Speaking at the FT World Telecoms conference in London, CEO of Ofcom, Ed Richards, has said that the award of spectrum in these bands is “now extremely important for the country,” with awards set to take place by 4Q11 via an auction process. The actual awards of licenses in these bands will come in 2Q12.

A consultation document which will detail the auction process is expected to be finalised by end February 2011.

The awards of spectrum in the 800MHZ and 2600MHz band have also been the biggest since 3G spectrum awards previously in the country and, Richards said, “a significant step forward” for the UK. Ofcom says it is also considering establishing roll out obligations and spectrum caps for UK operators wishing to roll out services in the 800MHZ and 2600MHz band.

Chairman and CEO of Telefónica Europe, Matthew Key, also speaking at the FT World Telecoms conference in London on Monday, has also expressed concerns that the timetable to award LTE spectrum in these bands is taking “simply too long”. The timeline to award spectrum in these bands means that the UK lags behind its European counterparts by two or three years.

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