Ofcom hangs up cap for upcoming UK spectrum auction

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Ofcom is not placing a cap on spectrum purchases in its forthcoming auction, which will see public sector bandwidth freed up for mobile industry use.

A reserve price of £70 million has been set for the 190MHz of spectrum that will go on sale during in early 2016. Spectrum within the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands will be up for grabs. It had previously been used by the Ministry of Defence.

Unusually for a spectrum auction, Ofcom is not placing a cap on the amount of spectrum bidders can buy. Ofcom said a cap could prevent an operator from buying a large amount of adjacent spectrum, which could be used to enable fast download speeds and potential 5G uses.

Last week, French regulator Arcep released further details of its upcoming 700MHz auction, which will see operators' purchases capped 2x30MHz of spectrum.

UK operators will be able to bid for lots of 10MHz in the 2.3GHz band and 5MHz in the 3.4GHz band. Ofcom said smartphones including the iPhone 6 could be used with 2.3Ghz spectrum. It is also being used for LTE deployments in 10 countries outside of Europe. Six countries are using 3.4GHz for mobile broadband purposes, including Spain and Canada.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, said: “Spectrum is the essential resource which fuels the UK’s wireless economy. This auction is an important step in ensuring that the UK has the wireless capability to deliver and support new technology.

“We’re responding to rapid change and innovation in the communications sector, which is placing greater demands on spectrum. Part of our plan to meet this demand is by making new spectrum available and allowing it to be used in a number of different ways.”