Ofcom kicks off spectrum auction for 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands

Cellular towers in China
Ofcom today announced final plans for spectrum auction — 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands — in early 2016 to meet the demand for mobile broadband services.

The British telecom regulator said 190 MHz of spectrum in two bands – 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz – will be available for auction. This is equivalent to around three-quarters of the spectrum released by Ofcom through the 4G auction in 2013.

The government will try to sell 190 MHz of new spectrum – 40 MHz of spectrum within the 2.3 GHz band (2350-2390 MHz) and 150 MHz of spectrum within the 3.4 GHz band (at 3410-3480 MHz and 3500-3580 MHz).

A further 40 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band (3480-3500 MHz and 3580-3600 MHz) is currently held by concurrent licensees: UK Broadband Ltd and UKB Networks. Either of the concurrent licensees may apply for a replacement licence, in which case Ofcom will include those frequencies in the assignment stage of the auction. This would enable all users of the 3.4 GHz band to have contiguous spectrum holdings.

Ofcom proposes to auction the spectrum in lots of 10 MHz for the 2.3 GHz band and 5 MHz for the 3.4 GHz band.

Ofcom is setting reserve prices totalling £70 million for the spectrum. The reserve price will be £10 million for a 10 MHz 2.3 GHz lot and £1 million for a 5 MHz 3.4 GHz lot.

The Ministry of Defense will release the spectrum as part of a wider Government initiative to free up 500 MHz of spectrum available for civil use by 2020.

Philip Marnick, spectrum group director at Ofcom, said: “This auction is an important step in ensuring that the UK has the wireless capability to deliver and support new technology. Part of our plan to meet this demand is by making new spectrum available and allowing it to be used in a number of different ways.”

There will not be a cap on the amounts bidders can buy. This will be a good news for telecom network operators such as Vodafone, EE, BT, etc. Ofcom says large blocks of spectrum have the potential to support fast download speeds, paving the way for 5G mobile.

Apple iPhone 6, HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy are compatible with the 2.3 GHz spectrum. The band is so far being used for high-speed 4G mobile broadband networks in ten countries outside Europe, including China, India and Australia.

The 3.4 GHz band is currently being used for 4G wireless broadband in six countries including the UK, Canada and Spain.

Baburajan K
[email protected]