Ofcom to hold new 4G spectrum auction, hopefully boosting mobile Internet speeds

Ofcom has announced that it plans to auction more wireless frequency bands in the UK.

They will most likely be used to expand the 4G network, thus giving operators the opportunity to expand their LTE network spectrum.

Read more: Vodafone the worst mobile network... again

The bands in question are 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz, with the consultation period ending on 23 January 2015. The auction is expected to take place in late 2015 or early 2016.

The 2.3GHz band is supported in current handsets like Samsung, Apple or HTC, while the 3.4GHz band is used by Relish, UK's wireless broadband provider.

Ofcom has proposed a reserve price of between £2.5 million to £5 million per lot for the 2.3GHz spectrum, and £1 million for the 3.4GHz spectrum, which puts the total value of the proposed reserve prices between £50 million and £70 million.

The news has come just a few days after an OpenSignal report stated that 4G speeds in the UK halved during last year.

Expanding the network should mean faster mobile Internet for many.

To promote competition, Ofcom has proposed a safeguard cap, limiting operators' mobile spectrum holdings to 37 per cent of relevant spectrum. This overall spectrum cap would include the newly-auctioned spectrum, said Ofcom in a statement posted on its website.

This should give carriers like O2, BT and Three the chance to compete with EE.

Read more: Three smashes EE, O2 and Vodafone across all categories in mobile broadband tests

Another issue that needs to be considered is that not all phones actually support these bands.

Most 4G phones in the UK support 800/900/1,800/2,600MHz bands, which is why phone manufacturers need to pull up their sleeves fast, because consumers wishing for faster mobile Internet connectivity will soon start looking for new devices.