Ofcom planning second 4G auction, but some frequency can only be used by iPhone 5S/C

Ofcom is planning a second 4G auction to sell off surplus MOD frequencies, but a portion of what will be on offer is only any use to the iPhone 5S and C.

Both bands are recognised as being suitable for 4G use, and will make a fresh 190MHz available, 150MHz of which can be used by most smart phones (on 3.4GHz), whilst the remaining 40MHz on the 2.3GHz band can only be used by Apple at the moment.

The plans for the auction are yet to be finalised, with the consultation period opening last week and closing at the end of November.

"We do not currently believe that the planned release of spectrum at 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz poses any risk to the number of national wholesalers of mobile services, since our initial view suggests that none of the existing national wholesalers requires access to this spectrum in order to remain competitive," the consultation document reads.

"This is because we believe the spectrum is likely to be of most value in providing additional options for network operators facing capacity pressures in other frequencies or for other network deployments (for example rural broadband or backhaul)."

Although the 3.4 GHz band is suitable for a number of uses, included fixed, satellite and radiolocation services, unsurprisingly, Ofcom expects that the main bidders will be the big mobile networks which took part in the initial 4G auction.

For this reason, Ofcom says the licenses and process will be much the same as the previous auction.

"Given the potential use of the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands for mobile broadband, we expect the non-technical licence conditions to be broadly similar to those used in the 19 recent 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz award," the document reads.

There is however, also likely to be a new "use it or lose it" clause added to the bidding terms, it adds.

News of the auction comes as Ofcom has announced plans to charge mobile networks up to five times higher fees for the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands.