5G spectrum auction opens

The 5G spectrum auction has opened with a total of 150MHz of spectrum divided into 34 lots on the block.

Two tranches of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4Ghz frequency bands are being offered.

It is not expected to be a money-spinner, in fact some analysts suggest it may raise less than a billion compared to the £2.34 billion raised by 4G and the £22 billion raised by 3G.

The diminished expectations are because limits have been put on the amount of spectrum operators can hold.

EE will not be able to bid for any more 2.3GHz spectrum as it already owns 43%.

The limit of 37% on the amount of spectrum any company can own in the 3.4GHZ band will also curtail Vodafone’s scope to buy more.

This will leave the other three contenders – O2, EE (owned by BT) and Airspan able to build up their spectrum holdings substantially.

However limiting the opportunities for Vodafone and EE means limiting the take, and Ofcom may be acknowledging this with spectrum group director Philip Marnick saying: “Our job is to release these airwaves quickly and efficiently, and we want to see them in use as soon as possible.”

Four lots of 10MHz in the 2.3GHz band have a reserve price of £10 million each.

30 lots of 5MHz in the 3.4GHz band have a reserve of £1 million each

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