Ofcom has announced its largest ever spectrum auction, offering the 2010-2025MHz and 2500-2690MHz (known as 2.6GHz) bands which are ideal for use by WiMax operators.
A total of 205MHz will be made available, and Ofcom expects to start the auction process in the summer.
Philip Rutnam, Ofcom's partner in charge of spectrum policy, said: "The release of the 2.6GHz radio spectrum will create opportunities for fresh innovation, new services and competition for the benefit of consumers in the UK. "
The auction is part of a wider initiative to open up around 400MHz of unused spectrum over the next few years, sparking a land grab by wireless operators. This will be intensified by the decision to make the operating licenses tradable.
No pricing guidelines have been offered, but it is thought unlikely that prices will reach the £25bn paid by mobile operators for the 3G spectrum.