Ofcom, the telecommunications regulatory agency for the United Kingdom (UK), set the stage this week for the launch of fourthgeneration (4G) wireless services in the UK with the adoption of rules that will govern the largest auction of telecommunications licenses in the nation’s history. The guidelines, unveiled on Tuesday, would cover an auction of wireless broadband spectrum that would award the equivalent of three-quarters of the 333 MHz of wireless spectrum currently in use throughout the UK. Observers also say that the amount of 4G spectrum to be offered is 80% more than the 3G frequencies that were allotted in 2000. Although that auction raised a whopping ₤22 billion (US$34 billion) in winning bids, analysts anticipate that the final bid tally for the upcoming 4G auction will be much more modest—i.e., an estimated ₤2 billion—despite keen industry interest. During the upcoming sale, spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands will be offered in lots, with four blocks of frequencies to be allotted to providers of nationwide network services. Out of the four national blocks, one will be set aside for a wholesaler other than the three largest wireless operators in the UK. One of the 800 MHz blocks will come with a requirement to provide mobile broadband services that are accessible indoors to at least 98% of the UK population by 2017. Opening bids for license lots with coverage obligations, including the 800 MHz nationwide block with indoor coverage requirements, will be set at ₤180 million. Minimum bids for blocks with no coverage obligations will be set at ₤217 million. Comments on a consultation regarding the auction rules will be accepted through September 11. Ofcom also plans to accept auction applications by year’s end and to launch the bidding process early in 2013.