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Ofcom will begin the 4G spectrum auction on December 11th 2012, it has been announced.

The media regulator has published the final regulations and a timetable for the auction – set to be the largest ever sale of mobile airwaves in the UK.

Space in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands will be used to deliver super-fast mobile broadband to people in cities, towns and villages across the UK.

The move should almost double the amount of airwaves currently available to smartphones and tablets that use 3G networks.

Ofcom has confirmed a combined £1.3 billion reserve price for the spectrum being auctioned.

December 11th is the provisional date for the submission of applications by prospective bidders - a deposit must also be submitted on this day.

During the remainder of the month, Ofcom will review the applications to determine who can go on to bid in the auction.

Bidding will begin in January 2013, and could take a number of weeks.

"Bids will be placed online over secure internet connections, using software that has been developed specifically for the auction," Ofcom revealed.

In February or March, bidders will be informed of what they have won and how much it will cost. Licences will then be granted subject to the payment of the required fees.

This should allow new 4G services to be launched in May or June next year.

Ofcom said 4G services should make it much quicker to surf the web on mobiles, with speeds likely to be nearer what is currently experienced with home broadband.

"Because of this, 4G is ideally suited for high-bandwidth data services such as streaming high-quality video, watching live TV and downloading large files," the regulator stated.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive at Ofcom, said today marks "an important shift" from preparation to the delivery of the auction, which will see widespread 4G mobile services from a range of providers.

"The entire industry is now focused on the auction itself, with a shared goal of delivering new and improved mobile services for consumers," he stated.

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