Communications regulator Ofcom has confirmed that the UK's 4G spectrum auction will be delayed until the fourth quarter of 2012.
Ofcom had originally planned to hold the auction in the first quarter of 2012, but last month admitted a delay was likely.
Ofcom consulted on the auction between March and May of this year, during which time operators and other stakeholders were able to submit responses.
"In light of these responses, and the significance of the decisions that we need to take – decisions that are likely to shape the future of the mobile sector in the UK for the next decade or more – we have decided to undertake a further round of consultation," Ofcom said in a statement.
A further consultation document is set to be published at the end of this year, followed by another period of review, whereby stakeholders will have a minimum of eight weeks to submit their responses.
"Our aim will then be to make our decision and publish a statement in the summer of 2012. The auction itself would then follow a few months later – perhaps starting in Q4 2012".
The auction will see companies bid for two spectrum bands: 800MHz and 2.6GHz.
The 800MHz band can travel further and is likely to boost the expansion of broadband into rural areas; while 2.6GHz carries more information at a faster speed and is likely to be used in urban areas.
The two bands add up to 250MHz of additional mobile spectrum, 80 per cent more than was available in the 3G auction in 2000.
Ofcom suggests that the delay in the auction is unlikely to impact the timeline for the availability of spectrum for new services, as the bands were never going to be made available until 2013.
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