British telecoms regulator Ofcom has confirmed that six companies have qualified to participate in its forthcoming spectrum auction, which it expects to start in late-March. The regulator said that, having assessed the applications submitted by the 8 February deadline, the following companies have been selected to proceed to the actual sale process: Airspan Spectrum Holdings Limited; EE Limited; Connexin Limited; Hutchison 3G UK Limited; Telefónica UK Limited; and Vodafone Limited. All pre-qualified applicants now have three days to confirm whether they wish to take part, or withdraw from the process, and a final list of bidders will be published once that period passes.
Spectrum in two bands is to be made available through the upcoming auction and includes 40MHz in the 2.3GHz band and 150MHz in the 3.4GHz band. Commenting on the latest development, Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, said: ‘We’re pressing ahead with the auction to make these airwaves available as quickly as possible. This will benefit today’s mobile users by providing more capacity for mobile broadband use. It will also pave the way for 5G – allowing operators to launch the next generation of mobile technology.’
Meanwhile, in other Ofcom-related news, the watchdog has published a draft decision related to the regulation of the wholesale mobile call termination market for the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2021. Following a public consultation on its plans which began last year, the draft includes a number of ‘key decisions’, most notably the decision to implement a single cap on mobile termination rates (MTRs) of GBP0.00495 (USD0.0069) per minute from 1 April 2018, with the rate to fall to GBP0.00489 from 1 June, before further reductions to GBP0.00480 and GBP0.00471 from 1 April 2019 and 1 April 2020, respectively. In addition, Ofcom has confirmed it plans to designate 68 providers as having significant market power with respect to the (wholesale) market for terminating calls to the numbers it controls, while it will impose a network access obligation and a charge control on all such providers. In publishing the draft statement, Ofcom said it had notified the EC of its plans, and once the notification process is complete it will publish a final statement to brings its decisions into effect.