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7 set for UK’s LTE auction

United Kingdom telecommunications regulator Ofcom released the names of seven companies qualified to participate in the government’s upcoming auction of spectrum licenses designed to support LTE-based services.

Ofcom noted that bidders will include Everything Everywhere, which is a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom; HKT (UK), which is a subsidiary of PCCW; Hutchison 3G; MLL Telecom; Niche Spectrum Ventures, which is a subsidiary of BT; Telefónica UK, which operates as O2; and Vodafone. The auction is scheduled to begin next month.

Those companies will be bidding on 250 megahertz of new spectrum spread between the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz band, with Ofcom noting the 800 MHz band will be geared towards greater geographic coverage while the 2.6 GHz band licenses will be helpful to support increased demand in urban markets. In an attempt to introduce competition into the market, Ofcom had previously stated that it will require the purchaser of one of the 800 MHz lots of spectrum to provide mobile broadband indoor access to 98% of the population by the end of 2017. Ofcom’s hope is that this would spur competitors to follow suit, giving greater coverage and options to U.K. residents.

The auction will introduce approximately 75% more spectrum into the U.K. market, which to this point has had to operate with just 333 megahertz of spectrum to support the country’s more than 81.6 million mobile lines.

While the spectrum set to be auctioned will be linked to LTE services, Everything Everywhere earlier this year gained approval from Ofcom to launch LTE services using some of its 1.8 GHz spectrum originally set aside for GSM-based services. Wireless operator O2 began LTE trials across portions of London late last year using 2.6 GHz spectrum under a “test and development” license from Ofcom.

Connected with O2’s LTE plans, Nokia Siemens Networks reported that it had garnered a contract to deploy equipment across O2’s network in London and the southeast of England in preparation for the deployment of LTE. NSN said the equipment includes an upgrade to the existing GSM and HSPA network. The agreement also includes network implementation and care services across 50% of O2’s radio access network. Financial terms of the deal were not announced.

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