Six telecoms operators approved to bid by Ofcom, on auction of 4G/5G spectrum

Tuesday, February 27th 2018

Ofcom, the telecoms regulator of UK, is going ahead with the auction of 4G and 5G related radio spectrum, which will see the bidding for the 40MHz frequency in the 2.3GHz bandwidth and the 150MHZ in the 3.4GHz bandwidth. The regulator has cleared 6 telecoms operators to bid in the upcoming auction. Ofcom has imposed a cap on the immediately usable spectrum at 255MHz and put an overall cap of 340MHz, that equals to a total of about 37%. This cap will stop EE (BT) from bidding on the 2.3GHz bandwidth, as they incidentally already have about 42% of the available spectrum. However, they can bid on the 3.4GHz spectrum, which is seen to be vital for operating very fast mobile broadband services of 5G. As a result, the regulator doesn't like to prevent EE from bidding here. Earlier, Three UK had tried in vain to stop EE from bidding, by demanding for a more stringent 30% cap. However, Three UK's final legal challenge was rejected flatly by the Court of Appeal.


Those cleared for the bid include EE Limited, Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd (Three UK), Vodafone Limited, Telefonica UK Limited (O2) and Connexin Limited. Meanwhile, Three UK's acquisition of UK Broadband Ltd put into their hands 5G friendly spectrum and their sibling Relish Wireless have given them enough, to become a significant player, but how they intend to play is yet to be seen. Another operator that could benefit from purchasing a slot of the spectrum, is O2. However, its parent Telefonica has been attempting to give it away, owing to their rising debts and O2 may only benefit a prospective buyer.


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