Mobile operators get ready for 3G auctions

newthree.gifThe UK’s five mobile phone networks are gearing up for the latest round of bidding for third-generation (3G) spectrum, which is expected to lead to newcomers such as Google coming into the market.

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom is due to release a statement detailing how the auction will work and what new services could be introduced. The sale is set to take place in the summer, although no date has yet been set.

The initial sale of 3G licences, at the height of the dotcom boom, saw the big four operators – Vodafone, O2, Orange and T-Mobile – as well as new entrant 3 (pictures), spend £22.5bn on licences to run 3G services. The technology got off to a slow start and many experts argue that it has never really taken off.

However, Ofcom is expected to say that the latest auction of spectrum is not restricted to mobile use but could be used for other wireless broadband services such as Wi-Max. It might also be suited to next-generation 4G services.

BT has said it is “very interested” in the spectrum, while Google is also thought to be seriously considering making a bid. The search engine giant recently launched a new operating system for mobile phones called Android, which it claims will make accessing the internet on a mobile much more like doing so on a computer.

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