Ofcom updates proposal for upcoming 5G auction in response to Shared Rural Network plan

Ofcom has released new guidance for how next year’s spectrum auction will work. The auction will determine how the release of airwaves will be allocated, and aims to meet growing demand for mobile broadband and support the rollout of 5G.

It had previously proposed including coverage obligations in its auction rules, which would have required mobile network operators to increase coverage in rural areas, in exchange for discounted spectrum.

In light of the commitments outlined in last week’s Shared Rural Network plan, Ofcom is no longer proposing to include coverage obligations in its auction.

The auction will involve companies bidding for spectrum in two different frequency bands.

It plans to use a format known as ‘simultaneous multiple round ascending’. This approach involves two stages:

Winners of 3.6-3.8GHz spectrum will have an opportunity within the assignment stage to negotiate their placements within the band among themselves. This will make it more straightforward for bidders to join the new spectrum with their existing holdings, and potentially reduce the level of fragmentation in the wider 3.4-3.8GHz band.

Ofcom has said responses to its proposals should be shared by 9 December, with final decisions to follow in early 2020. The auction will then start in the spring.

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