Bidding has begun in Ofcom’s auction of radio spectrum that can support future 5G services, as well as additional capacity which will help mobile firms meet current demand.
The UK’s telecoms regulator is releasing spectrum in two bands.
The first, 2.3 GHz, will be available for bidders to use as soon as it’s awarded, potentially allowing existing networks to boost their capacity.
BT’s EE is barred from bidding for any of the 2.3 GHz band due to Ofcom’s imposition of a cap on the amount of spectrum any company can control in this band.
This leaves four of the firms shortlisted by Ofcom earlier this month, Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd; Hutchison 3G UK Limited; Telefonica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited, to battle it out for this band.
However EE will compete against the other shortlisted bidders for space in the 3.4 GHz which is earmarked for future 5G services.
Bidding for both bands will be carried out in a series of rounds, with the process potentially taking “ a number of weeks” depending on the level of demand from bidders.
Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director said: “Our job is to release these airwaves quickly and efficiently, and we want to see them in use as soon as possible.
“We are glad the auction is now underway.
“This spectrum will help improve people’s experience of using mobile broadband today, and also help companies prepare for future 5G services.”