Ofcom has now published the final set of regulations for the 4G auction, and assuming nothing happens to stop these regulations coming into force the timeline for the various stages of the auctions.
The first stage in the auction now is for all the bidders to submit their applications by 11th December 2012. The actual bidding will start in January and will go on for a few weeks, and the lucky or unlucky winner depending on the amount they spend will pay for their licence(s). Then hopefully the first services using spectrum from the auction should launch in May or June 2013.
4G has shown some amazing speeds in the pre-testing during 2012, but it seems a large amount of expectation management has now kicked in, with Ofcom talking of an average of 1 Mbps on 3G and 4G delivering something 5 to 7 times faster. Which if we are in the world of averages is still below the UK average broadband speed as measured by Ofcom of 9.1 Mbps.
There are a set of consumer pages for the 4G services, which use less industry speak but generally provides such vague help that it is of little use. The coverage information is encouraging still, with the 98% figure referring to the number of people who should be able to get 4G inside their home, rising to 99% when outdoors. The choice of provider to get the best coverage will be important, in theory the network running on the 800 MHz band should provide the best coverage even if there are no additional network towers built.