Ofcom kicks off auction to improve mobile broadband and prepare for 5G
Mar 20, 2018
Ofcom’s auction to release more airwaves for mobile broadband and future 5G services starts today.
Five companies will take part in the auction, bidding for airwaves – or spectrum – available in two frequency bands.
The first band, 2.3 GHz, can be used by mobile companies as soon as it is released, to increase mobile broadband capacity for today’s mobile users.
The second band, 3.4 GHz, cannot be used by mobile devices available today, but is earmarked for 5G. This is the next generation of mobile technology, which also has the potential to pave the way for innovative new services in transport, healthcare and many other industries.
During the auction, companies will bid for ‘lots’ of spectrum over a series of rounds. Spectrum auctions can take a number of weeks; the length of the auction will depend on the level of demand from bidders.
The total value of the auction will also be determined by the level of demand. Ofcom’s duty is to manage the use of spectrum efficiently, rather than maximise the financial value of the auction.
Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director said: “Our job is to release these airwaves quickly and efficiently, and we want to see them in use as soon as possible. We are glad the auction is now underway. This spectrum will help improve people’s experience of using mobile broadband today, and also help companies prepare for future 5G services.”
The five companies that have been approved to bid in the auction are: Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd; EE Limited; Hutchison 3G UK Limited; Telefonica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited.
Ofcom will auction a total of 190 MHz of spectrum in the two bands: 40 MHz in the 2.3 GHz band, and 150 MHz in the 3.4 GHz band. There are two caps on the spectrum any one operator can hold, to protect competition in the market. The first means that EE, which currently holds the most spectrum, will not be able to bid for any spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band. The second is an overall cap on how much a single company can hold after the auction.
Ofcom has published a Q&A for media on the auction, and a more detailed guide to how the auction process will work.
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