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Ofcom to auction two spectrum bands this year

Ofcom, the UK regulator, is to auction licences to use 190 MHz of spectrum in two frequency bands, increasing the airwaves available for mobile devices by almost one third. It intends to auction 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band, which is already supported by mobile devices from manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung. In addition, 150 MHz of spectrum will be auctioned in the 3.4 GHz band. These airwaves are not compatible with most current mobile devices, but are expected to be usable by future phones and tablets. The 3.4GHz band has been identified as central to the rollout of 5G mobile across Europe, says Ofcom.

“When auctioning the spectrum, we will impose two different restrictions on bidders. These will limit the amount of spectrum operators can win in the 2.3 GHz band; and place overall limits on the spectrum an operator can win across the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands in aggregate.” Taken together, the effect of the caps will be to reduce BT/EE’s overall share of mobile spectrum; the company can win a maximum 85 MHz of new spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band. The overall cap also means that Vodafone could gain a maximum 160 MHz of spectrum across both the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands. Based on today’s spectrum holdings, there will be no restriction on the amount of spectrum that any other bidder could win. Ofcom is also looking at making further spectrum available for mobile in the 700 MHz band in 2020. The spectrum caps have come under fire, with operator Three saying Ofcom has not gone far enough and will increase the dominance of the large operators. It has run a campaign, ‘Make the Air Fair’, to put pressure on Ofcom to allocate spectrum more fairly in the UK. Meanwhile EE has said that spectrum caps are not necessary for this auction. See more and read news item from Capacity Media here,

  • Tuesday, 18 July 2017

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