British telecoms regulator Ofcom has now formally confirmed that four bidders will contest its upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.6GHz-3.8GHz bands. In accordance with regulations, the watchdog has now published the identities of the participants, which unsurprisingly are the four mobile incumbents: EE, O2 UK, Three UK and Vodafone UK. Last month the quartet had been confirmed as qualified bidders, but notably each had until 23 December 2020 to withdraw from the award process.
Meanwhile, the timeline for the auction itself is still reportedly being considered in light of the ongoing global health crisis, with Ofcom cited as saying: ‘We are keeping the timing of the start of bidding in the auction under careful review in light of the recent worsening of the coronavirus situation, and will publish an update on this in due course.’ As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in November 2020 Ofcom finalised the regulations relating to the planned award of spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.6GHz-3.8GHz bands, saying it would proceed with preparations to hold the auction ‘as soon as it is reasonably practicable to do so in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’. At that date, the regulator said it would work with all interested bidders to ensure the auction can proceed in a safe and secure way, with a view to starting bidding in mid-January 2021.