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Seven dial up for 4G auction [Daily Mail, London]
[December 21, 2012]

Seven dial up for 4G auction [Daily Mail, London]

(Daily Mail (London, England) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 21--SEVEN telecoms firms have been cleared to bid in the auction for superfast 4G mobile phone bandwidth, including two little-known players.

The appetite for 4G spectrum will boost Chancellor George Osborne's hopes that the auction, run by telecoms regulator Ofcom, can bring in the pounds sterling 3.5bn included in his Budget assumptions.

Everything Everywhere, Vodafone, O2 and Three are among the seven bidders in the auction.

They are expected to use their space on the airwaves to provide much faster mobile broadband to customers.

But the other three bidders are more likely to use their spectrum to provide mobile internet to businesses and institutions, analysts said yesterday.

BT, via a subsidiary called Niche Spectrum Ventures, is expected to boost broadband services to rural areas and to serve business clients.

Little-known network operator MLL, backed by several private equity groups, is also bidding and hopes to sell spectrum to existing clients, including the major telecoms companies. HKT, a subsidiary of Chinese group PWWC, was cagey about why it wanted UK spectrum.

Earlier this month Mr Osborne came under fire for including a pounds sterling 3.5bn windfall from the auction in his economic calculations.

But the number of companies joining the auction has lent credibility to the calculation, while a Dutch 4G auction last week saw telecoms operators pay far more than expected.

Matt Howett, telecoms analyst with Ovum, said the three smaller firms were unlikely to drive up prices because they want different parts of the spectrum to the traditional telecoms operators.

But he predicted: "The operators have to go into that auction and get what they want, so it will be hotly contested." The industry is keen to keep the bidding low after shelling out pounds sterling 22.5bn for 3G space in 2000.

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