In total 7 operators are involved in what is being called "a significant milestone" by the communications regulator Ofcom. It's the largest mobile spectrum auction to take place in the UK with the space on offer equivalent to three quarters of the current mobile spectrum.
The following organisations are bidding in the auction:
- Everything Everywhere Limited
- HKT (UK) Company Limited (a subsidiary of PCCW Limited)
- Hutchison 3G UK Limited
- MLL Telecom Ltd
- Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (a subsidiary of BT Group plc)
- Telefónica UK Limited
- Vodafone Limited
The bidding process will take place online with software that has been developed specifically for the auction and uses a secure connection. The bidding process will continue over several rounds and will go on for a number of weeks. There won't be any bidding updates until the conclusion of the auction to reduce any potential risk of strategic bidding which could distort the outcome of the auction.
On completion of the auction licences will be given enabling the operators to start rolling out new networks. A range of providers are looking to roll-out 4G services form spring/summer 2013.
The auction will allow more networks to offer 4G mobile data, with the likes of O2, Vodafone and 3 wanting to challenge EE which was allowed to launch its 4G service early. However it's not just 4G mobile connectivity on the cards, the likes of BT are looking to acquire some of the spectrum to improve its broadband coverage, especially in rural areas.