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Insight

High-capacity Spectrum to be Auctioned

Ofcom yesterday published an update on its plans to auction licences for spectrum suitable for high-capacity use such as delivering mobile broadband. The spectrum being released, in the 2.3GHz and Ofcom yesterday published an update on its plans to auction licences for spectrum suitable for high-capacity use such as delivering mobile broadband. The spectrum being released, in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, is currently used by the Ministry of Defence – its release to Ofcom is part of the Government's initiative to make public sector spectrum available for other uses.

Those of you that follow these issues may recall that the European Commission would like to see 1.2GHz of bandwidth to be allocated to 5G – which would include both licensed spectrum and shared spectrum. This may include spectrum sharing in the 2.3GHz band, and harmonisation within the 3.4GHz band. For a further discussion on 5G, see my earlier article here.

Non-exclusive tradable licences are proposed to be auctioned to cover (i) Great Britain with respect to 2.3GHz licences; and (ii) the whole of the UK with regard to 3.4GHz licences, and will have an initial term of 20 years. No minimum coverage obligations are proposed.

Ofcom's statement also includes a further consultation on whether 60MHz of bandwidth (of the 190MHz available) ought to be withheld from the licence auctions to account for the potential future changes in market conditions – particularly given the recent announcements regarding the acquisition of EE (by BT) and O2 (by Hutchinson Whampoa).

The full statement is available here.

 

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