EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 commit to £1.4bn spectrum investment
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
5G spectrum visualised from a mobile in hand The auction has increased spectrum available for mobile technology in the UK by nearly a fifth (credit: IDCUK)

The UK’s four leading mobile networks have committed to pay a combined £1.356bn in Ofcom’s latest broadband spectrum auction.

Communications regulator Ofcom released a total of 200 MHz of spectrum, in a move which will increase the total amount of spectrum available for mobile technology in the UK by nearly a fifth.

EE, Vodafone, Three and 02 took part in the principal stage of the auction, and each secured at least two of the 34 ‘lots’ made available across two different frequency bands: 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz.

According to Ofcom, the 700 MHz band is “ideal for wide-area coverage including the countryside” while the 3.6-3.8 GHz airwaves are primarily for 5G.

More than £1bn spent

EE was the biggest spender, picking up 40 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £284m and a further 40MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band at a cost of £168m.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer business, said: “EE has secured vital new spectrum in this auction which, when rolled out into the network, will allow us to grow our position as the UK’s number one 5G network.”

02 also won 20 MHz in the 700 MHz band for £280m, and 40MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168m.

Three focussed its spending on the 700 MHz band, winning 20 MHz for £280m, while Vodafone secured 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £176.4m.

Philip Marnick, group director of spectrum at Ofcom, said: “This is an important step forward in bringing better mobile services to people – wherever they live, work and travel. These airwaves will help improve coverage for the mobile services people use today, as well as supporting the UK’s position as a world leader in 5G.”

The auction will now move into the assignment stage to decide the exact position in the 700MHz and 3.6GHz bands.


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