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Monday, November 10, 2014

Ofcom moves closer to the next UK radio spectrum auction

Communications regulator Ofcom has invited potential bidders to comment on its proposals to auction spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands. This auction is expected to take place in around 12 to 18 months’ time, raising in excess of £50 million.

The radio spectrum is thought to be of particular interest to the mobile industry. A number of countries outside Europe - including China, India and Australia - have licensed the 2.3GHz frequency band for high-speed 4G mobile broadband networks, while the 3.4 GHz band is currently being used for 4G wireless broadband in six countries including the UK.

UK Broadband Limited uses the 3.4GHz spectrum in London for its ‘Relish’ mobile broadband service.

Ofcom intends to auction a total of 190MHz of spectrum in the two bands, which is the equivalent of around three-quarters of the 4G auction last year. The spectrum is currently used by the Ministry of Defence but is being freed up for civil use.

In addition, Ofcom plans to introduce a ‘safeguard cap’ that would prevent any mobile operator from holding more than 37% of relevant spectrum.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, said “Today marks an important step in ensuring that the UK has sufficient spectrum to support our wireless economy. It comes in response to the fast pace of change and innovation taking place in the communications sector, which is placing increased demands on how spectrum is used by all industries. One important way of meeting this demand is making new spectrum available and its use as flexible as possible.”

Responses to the consultation are required by 23rd January 2015. It follows an initial consultation last year.

[Ofcom proposals]

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