The UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has said it will auction off 200MHz of its excess radio spectrum, providing operators and other companies the opportunity to extend their 4G networks and other wireless services in the UK from 2014, Cellular News reports.

The auction is the first of its kind in the UK, where a government department has been able to sell off its unused spectrum for private use, and is expected to raise around £1 billion for the MoD, although it is unlikely it will be able to keep it.

The MoD was forced to sell at least 500MHz of public spectrum following an announcement in the Government’s 2010 Spending Review, where spectrum below 5GHz would be released by 2020 for new mobile communications services. The spectrum is highly sought after as it has a variety of uses in wireless communications.

It’s likely that mobile operators will seek to obtain some of the spectrum to support their 4G networks in the UK. While EE currently offers 4G services without competition, the other major carriers are waiting for Ofcom to open the bidding process for the 800MHz and 2.6 GHz 4G bands ahead of a mid-2013 rollout.

The MoD will begin clearing military users from the spectrum and making preparations by the end of 2013, ahead of a summer 2014 auction.

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