However, in order to maintain competition, Ofcom has designed the auction to ensure that at least four different operators have sufficient spectrum to be credible national 4G wholesalers.
The bidding will continue over several rounds and is expected to take a number of weeks until the final winners are known. Ofcom has refused to provide updates during the auction process - in stark contrast to the 3G auction where it released daily totals.
Bidders will be competing for 28 lots of spectrum in two separate bands - 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. The lower frequency 800 MHz band is part of the 'digital dividend' freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off.
These two bands add up to 250 MHz of additional mobile spectrum, compared to 333 MHz in use today. Both bands are being packaged into smaller lots of spectrum for the auction.
It's expected that the winning companies will launch LTE based services by this summer. One of the bidders, Everything Everywhere has already launched LTE services though, by refarming some of its existing 1800Mhz spectrum.
The following organisations are bidding in the auction:
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