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New 4G services to launch in May 2013 as Ofcom sets auction timetable

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has today revealed the timetable for the UK’s 4G spectrum auction, with new high-speed services set to launch in May and June 2013.

EE’s head-start in delivering the technology has calmed some of the hype around the process, but for rival operators like O2 and Vodafone, the newly published guidelines are of great importance. Many UK consumers will also be keeping an eye on proceedings in the hope that more 4G providers will lead to more competitive tariffs, after some of EE’s price plans drew criticism.

Prospective bidders have until 11 December (TBC) to submit their applications with an initial deposit, with the bidding process beginning in January. The regulator says this principal bidding stage could take “a number of weeks.” Licenses will be officially granted in February and March, and the operators will be informed about what they have won and its cost. Should the timetable be met, a new wave of 4G services will launched several months later.

“Today marks an important shift from preparation to the delivery of the auction, which will see widespread 4G mobile services from a range of providers,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive. “The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers.”

Will there still be a buzz around 4G services come May? First impressions of surfing the high-speed waves suggest plenty will be attracted to the new data contracts hitting the market, with Internet speeds largely living up to their billing so far. To really get a feel of the 4G experience, Riyad Emeran spent a week with the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 LTE on EE’s network, so follow the link to see his verdict.