4G/5G spectrum auction raises £1.36bn

The 4G/5G spectrum auction raised £1.36 billion, which was more than expected.

Cobham Wireless supplied this image

O2 spent £524 million on two blocks of spectrum – one in the 2.3GHz band which will be used to boost 4G services and another in the 3.4GHz band which will be used for 5G.

EE bought a block in the 3.4GHz band for  £303 million.

Vodafone also bought a 3.4GHz block for £378 million.

Both EE and Vodafone were unable to bid for 2.3GHz spectrum because they already have the limit allowed.

Three paid £151 million for 3.4GHz spectrum.

Principal stage ends

Five companies took part in the auction. The principal stage, which has just ended, involved 34 ‘lots’ of spectrum being made available across the two bands.

Airspan Spectrum Holdings Limited did not win spectrum in either band.

“This is good news for everyone who uses their mobile phone to access the internet,” said Philip Marnick, Spectrum Group Director at Ofcom.

“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.”

Assignment stage

Ofcom will now move to the ‘assignment’ stage, which is the last bidding stage of the auction. This is a short process, it says, which allows companies who have won spectrum in the principal stage to bid to determine where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be located.

After the end of the assignment stage, Ofcom will issue the winning bidders with licences to use the relevant spectrum within a few days. It says it expects to publish the final auction results shortly after.





  1. Wise words Pete, I expect the decision is made from nationalistic chutzpah – to get 5G in high profile locations quickly so as not to look too far lagging behind Seoul and Beijing.

  2. Ofcom can spin this as a success, but in reality they’ve only managed to raise money for the treasury at the expense of the UK public. Headline 5G throughputs are all based on at least 100 MHz of spectrum and the most any operator has in 3.4 GHz is 50 MHz (Vodafone). Also, it’s the same old tired business models. No operator is going to deploy a nationwide network in 3.4 GHz, so why issue national licenses? It would have been so much better to use the spectrum to add urban and transport corridor capacity.

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