LONDON Telecoms regulator Ofcom said on Thursday that seven companies had qualified to bid for the new airwaves needed to roll out superfast 4G mobile broadband across Britain.
Fixed lines provider BT, managed networks firm MLL Telecom and Hong Kong's PCCW Limited would enter the auction, Ofcom said, as well as all of the existing mobile network operators - EE, Vodafone, O2 owner Telefonica and Hutchison, which is behind Three.
Bidders will be competing for spectrum in two separate bands - 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz, it said. The lower frequency 800 MHz band was freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off.
EE, a joint venture between France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, has already launched 4G services in major British cities by reallocating its existing airwaves.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle)