More UK spectrum to be auctioned off next year ahead of push towards 5G

More UK spectrum to be auctioned off next year ahead of push towards 5G

The UK's communications regulator Ofcom has published details for its forthcoming auction of further spectrum early next year, with bidders expected to shell the equivalent of around three-quarters of the spectrum released in the last major spectrum sale back in 2013.

It was that auction that was widely credited with kickstarting the mass rollout of 4G services in the UK and Ofcom is hoping the latest round of bidding will help support the development of 5G mobile services.

It is for that reason Ofcom has decided not to place caps on the amount of spectrum bidders can buy, which it hopes will prevent companies making bids for substantial blocks of adjacent spectrum which it says “have the potential to support very fast download speeds”.

Overall, 190 MHz of high-capacity spectrum is to be made available across two bands, 2.3 GHz and 3.4 Ghz, with Ofcom setting a total reserve price of £70 million .

The 4G auction raised £2.3 billion, with bidders including the fixed line incumbent, BT, and major mobile carriers such as Vodafone, Telefonica/O2, and EE.

Ofcom added there were a great deal of existing smartphone users already compatible with the 2.3 GHz spectrum band, which is already used for 4G mobile services in ten countries outside Europe, including China, India and Australia.

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

The regulator will undoubtedly be hoping the next auction will spark needed to help 5G take off across the UK.