Ofcom says 4G rollout to arrive in 2013

The UK’s wait for the 4G mobile spectrum goes on, as Ofcom has announced that the technology will not be rolled out until 2013.

The 4G bandwidth auction, where the country’s mobile operators will bid for their slice of the new spectrum, is now set to take place at the end of this year according to the regulatory body. It was initially hoped the bidding process would take place at the beginning of 2012, until Ofcom said consultation issues were delaying the process.

While the telecoms watchdog confirms the auction is “set to get underway by the end of 2012”, this means the actual 4G implementation won’t take place until “next year”, to the frustration of consumers and mobile operators.

Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said with the announcement, “The 4G auction has been designed to deliver the maximum possible benefit to consumers and citizens across the UK.

“As a direct result of the measures Ofcom is introducing, consumers will be able to surf the web, stream videos and download email attachments on their mobile device from almost every home in the UK.”

Bringing faster speeds and lower costs, the technological upgrade is set to benefit both consumer and operator but the pressure on Ofcom to oversee a fair auction and effective rollout has brought a protracted saga. O2 and Vodafone have voiced concerns over potential advantages afforded to rival Everything Everywhere, while Three has also threatened legal action amid fears they were being squeezed out of the competition.

The delays have also affected UK businesses, who warn that the nation’s economy as a whole could suffer as it plays catch-up with the numerous countries already enjoying 4G technology.