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Ofcom has announced the bidders in the forthcoming 4G mobile spectrum auction – the largest ever sale of mobile airwaves in the UK.

Seven organisations have qualified to bid in the auction, which will start in January 2013.

Among these are Everything Everywhere (UK) - parent company of EE, Orange and T-Mobile - Hutchison 3G UK, which owns Three, and HKT (UK) Company, a subsidiary of PCCW - the owner of UK Broadband.

Also qualifying for the auction are MLL Telecom, Niche Spectrum Ventures - which is a BT company - Vodafone and Telefónica UK (O2).

The organisations will be competing to acquire new capacity to roll out super-fast 4G mobile broadband services using the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands.

Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “The 4G auction will be a competitive process that will dictate the shape of the UK mobile phone market for the next decade and beyond.

"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."

The lower frequency 800MHz band is part of the 'digital dividend' freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off, which is ideal for widespread mobile coverage.

And the higher frequency 2.6GHz band is ideal for delivering the capacity needed to support faster speeds.

EE has already launched 4G super-fast mobile broadband in the 1,800MHz frequency band, launching services in 11 cities around the UK.

Businesses and consumers are able to use high-bandwidth data services such as streaming high-quality video, watching high-quality live video and downloading large files using their 4G connection.

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