Ofcom could dish out spectrum from its forthcoming auction in two separate tranches, under proposals released this morning.
The UK regulator is due to sell off spectrum in the 2.3Ghz and 3.4GHz bands later this year, with mobile operators likely to use the frequency to boost capacity. It will be the first sale of spectrum in the country since EE announced it was being taken over by BT and Three revealed plans to buy O2. Both deals are under the scrutiny of competition authorities.
Today’s consultation, which closes on 26 June, has suggested options as to when the regulator would award the spectrum from the auction. Ofcom has suggested awarding most of the spectrum later this year, or early in 2016, with the remaining chunk dished out at a later date.
Other alternatives include awarding all of the bandwidth from the sale after it takes place, or divesting it at a later date. Winners of the spectrum will be under no coverage obligations, as they are better suited to boosting capacity, rather than bringing remote areas online.
The 2013 auction specified that O2, which won a specific tranche of spectrum, would have to offer 98 percent indoor population coverage by 2017.
Under the proposals issued this morning, winners of the auction would hold the spectrum for an indefinite period, but after 20 years they may have to pay fresh licence fees again.
Both bands of frequency that are up for grabs are currently being used by the UK’s Ministry of Defence. The sale is part of the UK’s government’s policy to free up public sector spectrum for civil use.