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Ofcom insists UK 4G auction process on track

07 сентября 2011

U.K. telecoms regulator Ofcom on Tuesday insisted that its plan to auction next-generation mobile spectrum during the first half of 2012 remains on track, despite several reports claiming the process had been delayed.

A report last week by Mobile Today 'revealed' that the start date for the watchdog's bandwidth sale – which will pave the way for operators to roll out networks based on '4G' technologies such as LTE and WiMAX – had been revised from the first quarter of 2012 to the first half of 2012. The news was subsequently reported this week by a number of other outlets including Reuters and the Guardian.

When Ofcom originally announced its preparations for the LTE auction in March its press release did indeed state that it was aiming to start the sale during Q1 2012; however, the accompanying consultation document published on the same day said the regulator would hold the auction "as soon as practicable, which we currently anticipate to be the first half of 2012".

An Ofcom spokesman said in an email to Total Telecom on Tuesday that the watchdog still plans to sell the airwaves in the first half of next year, but warned that it is operating on a very tight schedule.

"This is a complex area, involving a large number of technical and competition issues that we need to consider and resolve before finalising proposals," he said.

Even if the auction does take place on time, the U.K. will not see any next-generation mobile services launched before 2013.

Ofcom's spokesman reiterated the need to move digital terrestrial TV (DTT) services onto different frequencies before 4G services can be launched.

"Because these technical issues need to be satisfactorily resolved before new networks can be built, it will not be possible for mobile operators to start rolling out 4G networks until during the course of 2013 at the earliest, regardless of when the auction itself actually takes place," he said.

Earlier press reports also claimed that Ofcom will miss its autumn deadline for publishing the results of the March consultation and its draft auction rules – another claim that the regulator denies.

The spokesman insisted that Ofcom is still on track to make a statement this autumn, but declined to be more specific about when it will actually be published.

"The reason is that this is a highly complex area, which needs to be comprehensively worked through," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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