Ministry of Defence to sell spectrum, could mean more UK 4G

The MoD will auction precious slices of its spectrum later next year, with 4G-hungry network operators possible bidders.

The Ministry of Defence is auctioning off chunks of spectrum that it owns, increasing the amount of available bandwidth to be used for 4G.

The MoD, which says the sale is the first of its kind by a government department, will be flogging 200MHz of delicious bandwidth to the highest bidder, giving companies the chance to increase the amount of spectrum they own -- a tempting proposition for UK broadband providers or networks looking to roll out 4G services.

The bits of spectrum to be sold are between 2.3 and 2.4GHz and between 3.4 to 4.6GHz, with both bits to be auctioned in one combined bid-em-up.

In spectrum terms, the Ministry of Defence's bandwidth is prime real estate, as it could be put to a wide range of uses. The MoD says almost half of the most valuable spectrum (below the 15GHz mark) is owned by the public sector, directed toward worthy causes like transport and emergency services.

The auction is set to be completed by 2014, by which time the UK's biggest mobile operators will already have bid on large swathes of spectrum, freed up by the digital switchover and now set to be used for 4G. That auction is expected to raise £3.5bn, but controversially the government has already factored the estimated proceeds from the sale into the UK's ledger books, making it look like the deficit has fallen.

That auction is scheduled for early next year . Recently formed network EE has already planted its 4G flag in Britain , having used its already-owned 1,800MHz spectrum to set up the nation's first LTE network.

The likes of O2 and Vodafone will be eager to snap up bandwidth as soon as possible, as for now they're trailing behind EE, which is charging a small fortune for the new high-speed technology.

It'll be interesting to see who bids for the MoD's spectrum when it eventually goes on sale. Are you excited for 4G? Or would you rather have a more reliable 3G service? Holler into the comments or onto our Facebook wall.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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