Bidding for the UK's latest spectrum auction (opens in new tab) has begun as telecoms look to improve their existing 4G networks and begin to rollout their upcoming 5G offerings.
O2, Three, EE and Vodafone will be joined by a new player, Airspan Spectrum Holdings, to bid for a share of the newly released 150 MHz spectrum in the 3.4GHz band. Current devices are not compatible with this band but it will play an essential part in the commercial rollout of 5G (opens in new tab) services in 2020.
Additionally, 40MHz of spectrum within the 2.3GHz band will also be up for auction and telecoms will be able to use it immediately to improve their 4G services.
The auction will increase the available spectrum for mobile devices in the UK by almost a third and consumers will see the immediate benefit of improved 4G speeds.
Ofcom plans to auction the spectrum in lots and bidders can reserve 10MHz of the 2.4GHz spectrum for £10m or £1m for a 5MHz block. The bids are expected to increase from there though it is unlikely they will reach the same magnitude of the 3G auctions which provided the government with billions.
During the second half of 2019, Ofcom plans to auction off spectrum in the 700MHz band with the condition that winning bidders would have to roll out improved coverage in rural areas. (opens in new tab)
The auction is expected to last several weeks and we will likely hear more once the actual bidding begins.
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