British telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced the outcome of the principal stage of its auction of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, revealing that four of the five bidders had made successful bids.
All four of the nation’s existing mobile network operators (MNOs) have secured new frequencies, with O2 UK emerging as the biggest spender, after offering GBP205.9 million (USD290 million) for all 40MHz of the 2.3GHz spectrum on offer, as well as GBP317.7 million for 40MHz in the 3.4GHz band. Vodafone UK made the largest offer for 3.4GHz frequencies, meanwhile, with its GBP378.2 million bid netting it a 50MHz block in that band, while EE bagged a 40MHz block of 3.4GHz spectrum with a GBP302.6 million bid. Rounding out the winners, Three UK walked away with a smaller allocation than any of its rivals, agreeing to pay GBP151.3 million for 20MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum. Only newcomer Airspan Spectrum Holdings failed to win any of the frequencies put up for auction.
Having confirmed the identities of the winning bidders, Ofcom has said it will now move to the ‘assignment’ stage of the auction process. In this stage those companies that won spectrum in the principal stage bid to determine where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be located. After the end of the assignment stage, the regulator will issue the winning bidders with licences to use the relevant spectrum ‘within a few days’, allowing them to begin putting it to use, and it expects to publish the final auction results shortly after.
Commenting on the development, Philip Marnick, Spectrum Group Director at Ofcom, said: ‘This is good news for everyone who uses their mobile phone to access the internet. As a nation we’re using ever more mobile data on smartphones and mobile devices. Releasing these airwaves will make it quicker and easier to get online on the move. It will also allow companies to prepare for 5G mobile, paving the way for a range of smart, connected devices.’