Ofcom Reveals Plans For Further 4G Spectrum Auction


Current MoD frequencies will be allocated to the highest bidder

Mobile networks could be about to receive a welcome speed boost following a new Ofcom plan to auction off further mobile spectrum in order to deal with the UK’s growing demand for 4G content.

The industry watchdog has confirmed it will be selling off 190 MHz of spectrum from the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands to the highest commercial bidder.

It will now carry out a consultation period, ending June 26, with the new bands possibly allocated before the end of this year.

Transmission tower © Ross Gordon Henry Shutterstock 2012Start the bidding

The newly available spectrum is currently used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but is being made available as part of a wider Government initiative to free up public sector spectrum for civil uses.

However there are concerns that the auction may enable some of the telecoms industry’s biggest players to exert an unfair dominance on the market.

The new spectrum should help boost current capacity, rather than improving coverage, due to its high frequency, meaning it is an enticing offer for many of the UK’s biggest networks.

This could include the soon-to-be BT/EE merger or even the new network formed by Three owner Hutchinson Whampoa’s takeover of O2 in the UK.

Ofcom says it has noted this in its preparation for the planned auction, despite not having any formal merger control regulations, as in the UK mergers are considered by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) or the European Commission, depending on whether the necessary jurisdictional thresholds are met.

It will therefore hold back some of the newly-available spectrum for when the above mergers have gone through.

“Ofcom’s objective is to award the frequencies in a way that will allow consumers to enjoy greater access to high-capacity mobile internet without undue delay,” the watchdog said in a statement.

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