Regulator Ofcom has named the contenders who'll be battling to take home chunks of spectrum in the , with all four major UK networks ready to fight it out.
The full list includes heavyweights Vodafone Limited, the Spanish Telefónica UK Limited (which owns O2) and Hutchinson 3G UK Limited (that's Three).
Everything Everywhere is also getting involved in the bidding, despitean up-and-running 4G service. I suppose you can never have too much spectrum though, and the chance to grab some of the bandwidth up for auction could let EE improve its 4G coverage.
BT will also be joining the bidding, via its cryptically-named Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited. Marlow-based network supplier MLL Telecom is also wading into the fray, as is major Chinese conglomerate PCCW, a holding company that owns Hong Kong telecomms provider HKT UK.
That makes seven companies in total, though Ofcom has stated that it has every intention of organising the auction so that four "credible national wholesalers" of mobile services exist in Britain. That means O2, Vodafone, Three and EE will probably all walk away with healthy chunks of new spectrum.
The auction is expected to raise £3.5bn -- cash that the UK's torpid economy desperately needs. Here's hoping the corporations that supply our mobile networks bring a healthy stack of cash to the bidding war.
The auction will be for the 800MHz and 2,600MHz spectrum bands, and begins next month. Networks awarded new spectrum should be able to kick offin the summer of 2013.
EE is currently the only network in the UK to offer 4G magic, and my gosh, doesn't it just know it, charging well over the odds for the speedy new service. Here's hoping that when other companies can offer rival services the price for 4G tumbles.
Are you excited for 4G? Or is your mobile data quite fast enough already thankyouverymuch? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.