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Ofcom announces Spring 5G auction with “crucial” airwaves to be released

Paul Lipscombe
October 28, 2019

Ofcom will publish its final proposals on the the auction early next year

Ofcom has today (October 28) announced plans to release ‘crucial airwaves’ to meet the growing demand of 5G during next year’s spring auction.

It means that the regulator is updating its initial proposals, following the four big networks plans to deliver a Shared Rural Network, as announced on October 25 by the government.

The auction will see Ofcom releasing 80MHz of the 700MHz band, with this spectrum ideal for good mobile coverage both indoor and outdoor across wide areas, including the countryside.

Ofcom will also be releasing 120MHz of spectrum in the 3.6 to 3.8GHz band, with this band critical to ‘data-hungry connections in concentrated areas’.

To maintain a fair standard of competition, Ofcom has capped a 37 per cent limit on the overall spectrum that any operator can hold following the auction.

Next years auction will be similar to the one in 2018 which involved two stages. The two stages will be the ‘principle stage’ and ‘assignment stage’.

The principle stage sees the operators bid for airwaves in separate ‘lots’ to determine how much spectrum each one wins, while there is a round of bidding in the assignment stage to specify the frequencies that each bidder is allocated.

Winners of the 3.6 to 3.8GHz band get the chance to negotiate their placement within the band among themselves.

Ofcom spectrum group director Philip Marnick said: “We’re pressing ahead with plans to release vital airwaves to improve mobile services for customers.

“Together with mobile companies’ commitments to improve coverage, this will help more areas get better services and help the UK maintain its place as a leader in 5G.”

Ofcom plans to publish its final decision in early 2020 on its proposals ahead of the Spring auction.

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