By kateoflaherty, Dec 20 2012 10:13AM
The New Year is already looking interesting in the operator space. Ofcom has today (20 December) announced the players that will bid in the 4G spectrum auction, due to kick off in January 2013.
Of course, all the major operators will bid, including Hutchison 3G (Three as its UK arm is known), alongside bigger players EE, Vodafone and Telefonica (O2).
Also unsurprising is BT's part in the auction, through its subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited. To be able to compete in an increasingly mobile world, the telecoms group needs its own mobile side - and although the firm did run an MVNO on the Vodafone network, it had little success. A 4G offering will directly allow BT to compete in both the consumer and business space, taking on companies such as Virgin Media, which already offers superfast internet, mobile (albeit through its EE MVNO) and landline.
Virgin Media's name is absent from Ofcom's list, probably due to its MVNO on the T-Mobile network, making 4G spectrum an unnecessary expense. Sky's absence is felt however - it seems to be happy concentrating on the pay TV market rather than launching a mobile offering to compete with its fixed line rivals.
Then there are the unfamiliar names. Also competing in the auction are HKT (UK) Company Limited, a subsidiary of PCCW Limited, which is a Hong Kong based telecoms conglomerate; and Bucks based network supplier MLL Telecom Ltd.
The spectrum auction itself will boost the airwaves available to mobile phones by more than 75% and is likely to drive down prices for currently premium 4G services. It will also break EE's exclusivity in the area.
The auction will not only provide faster download speeds for many still trying to get a 3G signal; judging from the variety of players, it will also add much-needed choice to the operator market.