British telecoms regulator Ofcom has published the annual licence fees (ALFs) for paired spectrum in the 2100MHz band. With frequencies in that band having originally been auctioned off in 2000 for a fixed period of 20 years, in 2011 the regulator varied the concessions to make them indefinite and included a new provision in the licences requiring the payment of ALFs from 1 January 2022.
Having published a consultation on its proposed fees in July 2021, Ofcom has now set out its decision on the level for the charges based on what it termed ‘a conservative estimate of the market value having regard to UK mobile spectrum auctions’ evidence alongside international evidence (where available)’. As per Ofcom’s decision it has set an ALF of GBP561,000 (USD743,000) per MHz for paired 2100MHz spectrum, meaning that based on their current paired 2100MHz spectrum holdings (and based on April 2021 prices), the country’s mobile network operators will be required to pay the following annual fees: EE, GBP22.44 million; O2, GBP11.22 million; Three UK, GBP16.55 million; and Vodafone UK, GBP16.61 million. Further, it was noted that these fees will increase by CPI each year.
Meanwhile, having considered consultation responses Ofcom has said it plans consult further in the first half of 2022 on the future use of the unpaired 2100MHz spectrum band, including on a proposal to revoke unpaired spectrum licences. As such, it said it was not setting a fee for unpaired 2100MHz frequencies it in its decision statement.