Among the bidders are all of the major existing UK mobile operators, as well as Hong Kong conglomerate PCCW and UK network supplier MLL Telecom, reports The BBC.
The telecoms regulator said the auction would increase the amount of airwave available for mobiles by more than 75%.
The auction is due to start next month, with licences granted by March and services launching in May and June.
The complete list of bidders is:
- Everything Everywhere, which has already been permitted to launch the UK’s first 4G service using existing bandwidth and did so on 30 October
- PCCW, a major Hong Kong telecoms conglomerate, operating through its subsidiary HKT
- Hutchison Whampoa, another Hong Kong conglomerate and operator of the 3 network
- MLL Telecom, a telecom network supplier founded in 1992 and based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire
- BT, via its subsidiary “Niche Spectrum Ventures”
- Telefonica, the Spanish incumbent telecoms company that owns the O2 network
“New 4G services will stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the UK, and deliver significant benefits to consumers in terms of better, faster and more reliable mobile broadband connections,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive.
Download speeds will initially be at least five to seven times faster than existing 3G networks, Ofcom claimed.
The auction is making use of the 800MHz radio spectrum freed up by the switch from analogue to digital television, and also offers an additional higher-frequency 2.6GHz band.
Ofcom aims to award licences to four “credible national wholesalers of mobile services”.