Ofcom announces 5G auction in March

The UK plans to award spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands in March. The regulator Ofcom announced that preliminarily it will launch the bidding phase of the auction in March 2021.

At the beginning of the year, the regulator announced that four major mobile operators qualified for participation in the auction, namely EE, Hutchison 3G UK, Telefónica UK and Vodafone. They will compete for a total of 200 MHz spectrum, which represents a 22% increase in the amount of spectrum for mobile use.

In the 700 MHz band, Ofcom offers 60 MHz duplex and 20 MHz for downlink-only. Further, in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band, the available spectrum amounts to 120 MHz. The new spectrum shall help operators increase the capacity and quality of their mobile services.

The regulator imposed a cap of 37% proportion of total mobile spectrum to be held by one entity as a result of the auction. That means that after the award, one operator will hold up to 416 MHz of mobile spectrum.

The regulator decided to omit the coverage obligations. Instead, the operators committed to increase mobile coverage in the Shared Rural Network programme.

Although originally Ofcom planned to apply combinatorial clock auction format, it eventually revised its plan and will apply SMRA format.

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