Ofcom’s announcement comes after several months of negotiation between the regulator and mobile network providers with the reserve for the auction set at £1.3 billion.
Applications will be accepted from December 11 and, with plans to cover 98% of the UK with 4G connectivity, this is likely to be the largest ever sale of mobile phone spectrum.
Once the applications have been submitted, the networks will be able to begin bidding for airwaves in January next year. By February and March, the bidders will be informed what they have won and what the cost will be.
We can expect the 4G services to start appearing from the major network providers in May or June 2013.
At present, only EE is offering 4G services for customers in the UK thanks to its existing spectrum and the reserves of surplus 2G airwaves.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: “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.”
“The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers.”