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Ofcom delays spectrum auction of 2.3 and 3.4Ghz spectrum bands

Since my article published on 3 November, Ofcom have decided to delay the auction process for the 2.3 and 3.4Ghz bands.  It has been reported that the hold-up is the result of threatened legal action Since my article published on 3 November, Ofcom have decided to delay the auction process for the 2.3 and 3.4Ghz bands.  It has been reported that the hold-up is the result of threatened legal action by Hutchison and Telefónica, the respective parent companies of H3G UK and O2, who are currently seeking merger approval.

 

The European Commission is currently investigating the competition implications of the H3G/O2 tie-up and is expected to make a ruling by mid-May 2016.  Telefónica and Hutchison reportedly indicated that they would seek judicial review if the spectrum sale plans had gone ahead before a ruling on the merger of their existing networks was decided.  O2 has welcomed the delay, stating that "proceeding with a major spectrum award immediately before the conclusion of two significant competition investigations would have created uncertainty in spectrum valuation".

 

The regulator had planned to kick off the auction process this month with a view to releasing the spectrum in 2016, and had set a reserve price of £70 million (€97 million) for the spectrum bands which comprise 40 MHz of 2.3-GHz band spectrum and 150 MHz in the 3.4 GHz band.  The spectrum has been earmarked for mobile broadband services.  The 2.3 GHz band is already being used for 4G services in 10 markets outside of the European Union, including China, India and Australia and the 3.4 GHz band is being used for 4G wireless broadband in six countries including the UK, Canada and Spain.

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