Vodafone has taken the biggest slice of 5G-capable spectrum in Ofcom’s auction, in which the UK’s other established players, EE, O2 and Three, also won new spectrum.
Ofcom says Vodafone will pay £378,240,000 for 50 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum, while BT’s EE has won 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £302,592,000.
Hutchison 3G UK Limited, owners of Three, has won 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151,296,000, and O2 parent company Telefónica UK Limited has won 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £317,720,000.
Telefónica also scooped 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz spectrum which is available to use immediately for existing 4G services.
The auction now moves on to a final ‘assignment’ stage in which companies determine where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be located, after which Ofcom will award the formal licences.
Philip Marnick, Spectrum Group Director at Ofcom, said today’s results were “good news for everyone who uses their mobile phone to access the internet.”
He added: “As a nation we’re using ever more mobile data on smartphones and mobile devices.
“Releasing these airwaves will make it quicker and easier to get online on the move. It will also allow companies to prepare for 5G mobile, paving the way for a range of smart, connected devices.”
Vodafone said it would use its new spectrum “to deploy 5G services, enabling Gigabit speeds and lower latency to enhance applications including connected vehicles and robotics, industrial automated systems, and virtual and augmented reality.”
Telefónica UK CEO, Mark Evans, said: “The real winners in this auction are customers as O2 invests to further strengthen its award winning network. The airwaves we’ve secured allow us to further enhance our network, both now and in the future.
“We’ve thrown down a major marker for our future commitment to the UK. Our investment in 3.4GHz enables us to move forward to further improve connectivity whilst boosting the economy and laying the foundations for 5G in Britain”
A spokesperson for Three said: “5G technology is exciting for consumers and mobile operators and we are now in the process of planning how best to launch 5G services to the maximum benefit of our customers.”
Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said: “The acquisition of 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum positions us well for our launch of future 5G services and consolidates our position as one of the world’s leading providers of communications services.
“With this outcome, we’ll continue to roll out the fastest 4G service to consumers and businesses across the UK, and now look ahead to the potential new services that 5G will offer, keeping our nation at the forefront of digital communications.”