Ofcom spectrum auction starts today

Ofcom spectrum auction starts today

After a pause in the process, bidding in the principal stage begins today. The UK’s four main mobile networks – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – will bid for spectrum in two different frequency bands:

  • The 700 MHz band: 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band is being released. These airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage – including in the countryside.
  • The 3.6-3.8 GHz band: 120 MHz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band is being released. These airwaves are part of the primary band for 5G and capable of boosting mobile data capacity, carrying lots of data-hungry connections.

Bidding will take place in two separate stages:

  • Principal stage – companies first bid for airwaves in ‘lots’ to determine how much spectrum each company wins in each band. Bidding will continue for as long as there is excess demand for the spectrum available. Ofcom will announce the results of the principal stage as soon as possible after it has concluded.
  • Assignment stage – there is a round of bidding to determine the specific frequencies that winning bidders will be allocated. Winners of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band will also have the opportunity to negotiate the specific frequencies among themselves – if they want to join together the airwaves they have secured within the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band.

The final results of the auction will be published once all stages are complete. More details on how the auction will work are set out in Ofcom’s guide to the auction process.