Ofcom highlights risk of 4G auction delay

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The UK mobile phone market is one of the cheapest and most developed in Europe but Britain risks falling behind rival nations because of delays in the auction of next generation mobile services, according to the telecoms watchdog. The use of smartphones is higher in the UK than in comparable European nations, according to the sixth international market report by Ofcom. Some 46 per cent of all UK mobile customers use internet-connected devices such as Apple’s iPhone, and UK ownership of smartphones nearly doubled between February 2010 and August 2011. Ofcom found mobile services in the UK were cheaper than in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US.

However, superfast broadband networks using next-generation mobile technology have already launched in countries such as Sweden, the US and Japan, while the UK auction of the spectrum needed to carry similar services has been delayed until the end of next year. The next generation of mobile broadband – normally called 4G or LTE (long term evolution) – is increasingly seen as critical for a UK market where more mobile customers than elsewhere are using phones to access data rather than solely make voice calls. The 4G network will allow a much faster data service. Ofcom found that nearly half of UK internet users accessed internet services on their mobile phones in October 2011 – more than in the US, Italy, France and Germany, where around 40 per cent did so – and more UK customers used their phones to play games.


Ofcom highlights risk of 4G auction delay