UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has unveiled details of its planned spectrum auction due to take place early next year. A total of 190MHz of high-capacity spectrum will be offered across the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands as part of a wider Government initiative to free up public sector spectrum – made available by the Ministry of Defence – for civil uses. Ofcom noted that the frequencies are ‘particularly suited for high-speed mobile broadband services, because they can carry large amounts of data’. The regulator also revealed that a reserve price would be set at GBP70 million (USD107 million), with no cap on the amount of spectrum any one company can acquire. Ofcom highlighted that limits could prevent a bidder from buying large blocks of adjacent spectrum – which have the potential to support very fast download speeds and could potentially pave the way for 5G. With Ofcom also saying it aims to ensure that the auction is ‘designed to be fair and transparent’, it will offer the 2.3GHz frequencies in 10MHz lots, while spectrum in the 3.4GHz band will be offered in 5MHz lots.
Commenting on the plans, Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, was cited as saying: ‘Spectrum is the essential resource which fuels the UK’s wireless economy. This auction is an important step in ensuring that the UK has the wireless capability to deliver and support new technology … We’re responding to rapid change and innovation in the communications sector, which is placing greater demands on spectrum. Part of our plan to meet this demand is by making new spectrum available and allowing it to be used in a number of different ways.’