Ofcom has revealed a list of 16 bidders for the 12 low-power GSM licences which it will be issuing in May. Coffee Telecom, the most public proponent of pico-cells, isn't on the list, but will pop up as part of one of the consortia.

The spectrum, originally set aside to prevent older mobile and cordless interfering, can be used by any existing GSM cellphone. Unsurprisingly, it has attracted some major players to the published list of bids for the licences.

"The UK's largest fixed-only operators are here," said Dean Bubley, of Disruptive Analysis. "BT, Cable & Wireless, Colt, and NTL ntl would all like spectrum to offer triple/quad-play services without relying on MVNO deals and other companies' spectrum."

The biggest surprise is the absence of Coffee Telecom, which made its plans to offer GSM "hotspots" very public last year, and welcomed the auction announcement in February.

"I'm part of one of the bidder groups listed but can't say which one just yet," said Martin Wren-Hilton, head of Coffee Telecom.

Bubley has more details on the applicants on his blog - they include:


  • A division of Carphone Warehouse, called Opal
  • The Phillipines telco PLDT, which apparently wants to use the spectrum to allow hotspots where people can make cheap international calls,
  • Shiyam Telecom of India, which has an interest in in-building wireless
  • Spring Telecom, which already does low-power inbuilding GSM in Sweden
  • CyberPress, a dark horse, which Bubley says has the Pipex CEO as a director
  • FMS, which apparently wants to allow the emergency services to use the spectrum
  • Mapesbury which provisions Wi-Fi hotspots for Texaco among others
  • Centric Telecom, which seems to want to use in-building GSM to offer "landlord services" to building owners
  • Teleware, an enterprise communications provider, on the in-building trail again
  • Zynetix, which makes GSM softswitches.