Analyst: UK LTE spectrum auction may have unexpected winners

The upcoming UK LTE spectrum auction will be the largest-ever of mobile frequencies in the country, according to a new study from CCS Insight. And give the size of the auction and the number of registered bidders, the eventual outcome could upset the established pattern for frequency allocations.

"We expect to see some intensive bidding over the next few weeks as the networks scramble to secure vital capacity to launch LTE services," said CCS Insight blogger Kester Mann. "In particular, the sale of spectrum in the 800 MHz band suitable for wide-area coverage will be hotly disputed. But the process won't be straightforward--the blind bids used in the auction mean there are more than 3,000 potential outcomes."

Besides the four incumbent mobile operators, three other contenders--BT, Hong Kong-based PCCW and local provider MLL Telecom—have registered to bid for spectrum. BSkyB, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have declined to be directly involved in the auction, but CCS Insight believes they are likely to offer some type of LTE services by forming wholesale relationships with licence winners.

Of note, Mann claims that the auction winners will look to close the gap with EE, which has already launched its LTE service, by rapidly deploying their high-speed networks.

"I'm expecting the roll-out of 4G to be faster than any new network in the UK and operators to battle fiercely over coverage and capacity. A prompt and effective start to services will be crucial to initial consumer perception of the technology," said Mann in a statement.

For more:
- see this CCS Insight release

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