Results of Principal Stage of UK Auction for Mobile Airwaves

Ofcom has announced the outcome of the principal stage of its auction to release airwaves for 4G mobile and future 5G services. The body has been running an auction of airwaves – or spectrum – in two frequency bands:

  • 2.3GHz, which is usable by current mobile phones and will help improve 4G capacity for today’s mobile users.
  • 3.4GHz, which is one of the spectrum bands earmarked for 5G, the next generation of mobile technology.

Ofcom has duties to promote competition and manage the use of spectrum efficiently, and the auction has been designed to achieve this. Five companies took part in the auction. The principal stage involved 34 ‘lots’ of spectrum being made available across the two bands. Ofcom has confirmed the amount of spectrum won in the principal stage by each company.

Results of the principal stage:

  • Airspan Spectrum Holdings Limited has not won spectrum in either band.
  • EE Limited has won 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum at a cost of £302,592,000.
  • Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 20MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum at a cost of £151,296,000.
  • Telefónica UK Limited has won all 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz spectrum available, at a cost of £205,896,000; and 40 MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum at a cost of £317,720,000.
  • Vodafone Limited has won 50MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum at a cost of £378,240,000.

The total value of the principal stage is £1,355,744,000, with all money raised from the auction to be paid to HM Treasury.

Next Steps

Ofcom will now move to the ‘assignment’ stage, which is the last bidding stage of the auction. This is a short process, which allows companies who have won spectrum in the principal stage to bid to determine where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be located.

After the end of the assignment stage, Ofcom will issue the winning bidders with licences to use the relevant spectrum within a few days, allowing them to begin putting it to use. We expect to publish the final auction results shortly after.

Philip Marnick, Spectrum Group Director at Ofcom said, “This is good news for everyone who uses their mobile phone to access the internet. As a nation we’re using ever more mobile data on smartphones and mobile devices. Releasing these airwaves will make it quicker and easier to get online on the move. It will also allow companies to prepare for 5G mobile, paving the way for a range of smart, connected devices.”

The spectrum auction is one part of Ofcom’s work to improve mobile services. Ofcom is also requiring mobile companies to extend their networks as more airwaves are released next year. Ofcom is working with Government to make it easier for companies to install masts. And is legalising ‘mobile repeaters’ – devices that help boost mobile reception in people’s homes.



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