4G auction winners to be revealed Wednesday, Three may be the big loser

O2, Vodafone and EE expected to take 800MHz spectrum

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The UK's mobile networks are preparing themselves for the outcome of the 4G LTE spectrum auction, which Ofcom will announce on Wednesday.

The communications regulator will reveal which companies have been successful in the bidding process for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies placed up for grabs in January.

Reports on Tuesday evening suggest that the most valuable 800MHz spectrum will be carved up between O2, EE and Vodafone, but the UK's smallest network Three is expected to miss out.

Instead, according to a Guardian article, Three will have to settle for the 2.6GHz spectrum for the roll-out of its 4G LTE network after being outbid by its rivals.

The big prize

The 800MHz band is considered a far greater prize than the 2.6GHz spectrum because the waves are longer and it is able to carry the 4G LTE signal ten times further.

This means, with 800MHz spectrum at their disposal, the winning parties will be able to roll out their next-gen service across the entire nation faster than those with only 2.6GHz spectrum.

Losing out would be a blow to Three after pledging not to increase its prices for 4G tariffs, but the network has likely prepared for this eventuality after losing out in similar circumstances in France and Italy.

Once the winners are officially announced, the networks will be able to get to work on rolling out the new speeds to customers around the UK.

The likes of O2 and Vodafone will likely unleash their first 4G plans around May or June as they begin the task of making up ground on EE, which rolled out its service last year on the 800MHz spectrum it converted from 2G and continues to rapidly add more UK cities.

Via Guardian