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Ofcom announces plans for spectrum auctions and a consultation on spectrum sharing

Ofcom announced on 18 December that it is planning to auction 200 MHz of spectrum (80 MHz in the 700 MHz band and 120 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band) for mobile services by spring 2020 and has published plans for spectrum sharing to support innovation and local coverage initiatives.

It has stated that use of the 700MHz band will help to provide good mobile coverage, both indoors and across very wide areas, including the countryside, while the 3.6-3.8GHz band is suitable for supporting “lots of data-hungry connections in concentrated areas” and can be used to provide 5G services.

The regulator intends to require the winners of the spectrum to do the following within four years of obtaining it:

During the auction, the price for winning airwaves that carry these rules will be discounted by up to £300m to £400m to reflect the investment required, and the social benefits they will bring. This plan is under consultation and the consultation documents can be viewed here.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s spectrum group director, said: “Mobile coverage has improved across the UK this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a signal. We’re particularly concerned about mobile reception in rural areas.

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