EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 commence spectrum auction bids

Communications regulator Ofcom has begun the process of awarding 5G spectrum in the 3.6 to 3.8 GHz band through its latest spectrum auction.

The auction, which an Ofcom representative told Land Mobile “could take months” to complete in full, will increase the total amount of spectrum available for mobile technology in the UK by nearly a fifth.

This auction, the second of its kind, involves EE, Vodafone, Three and 02 bidding for spectrum across two different frequency bands: 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz.

The four companies will bid for 24 lots of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8GHz band; four lots of 700 MHz individual frequency and six lots of 700 MHz paired frequency.

At the end of the second day of the auction on Monday, the bidding between the four telecoms giants had pushed the 3.6GHz lots price from its opening reserve of £20m to £22.05m. The price for 700 MHz paired frequency lots rose to £140m from a £100m reserve and from £1m to £1.1m for the individual lots.

Ofcom has released 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, following a four-year programme to clear the band of its existing uses for digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphones. The regulator said “these airwaves are ideal for providing good-quality mobile coverage, both indoors and across very wide areas – including the countryside”.

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