Eyes on the prize: Spectrum auction to pave the way for UK’s 5G mobile future

Eyes on the prize: Spectrum auction to pave the way for UK’s 5G mobile future
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UK telecom regulator Ofcom has announced that it will auction additional mobile spectrum in a bid to provide enough capacity for user’s insatiable data appetite.

The auction is planned for early next year and includes two bands – 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz – that are particularly well suited for high-speed data services as they can support large amounts of data. Providing enough capacity will be the key to ensuring increasingly fast mobile speeds as technology moves closer to anything termed ‘5G’.

“There will not be a cap on the amounts bidders can buy. Ofcom believes that any cap could prevent a bidder from buying large blocks of adjacent spectrum. Large blocks have the potential to support very fast download speeds, meaning even faster mobile broadband for consumers, which helps pave the way for 5G,” Ofcom says.

The auction is expected to raise a minimum of £70 million and the two bands up for grabs are already in use for mobile services in various countries around the world, so handset compatibility shouldn’t be too much of a problem. The iPhone 6 and Samsung Galaxy ranges already support the 2.3 GHz band, Ofcom added.

5G is expected to arrive in the UK somewhere between 2020 and 2022.

➤ Public Sector Spectrum Release (PSSR) – Competition and auction design issues for the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz spectrum award, including reserve prices [Ofcom]

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