Ofcom Outlines 4G Spectrum Auction Rules

Ofcom has published the rules for the 4G spectrum auction – the largest sales of its kind ever to take place in the UK. The reserve price for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies is £1.3bn.

Applications from prospective bidders are likely to have to be submitted by 11 December. This date will be confirmed once the regulation needed to proceed has come into force on 23 November.

There will be a seminar outlining the rules before the application date, and mock auctions in the weeks commencing November 26 and December 3.

4G should be available to customers on all networks by next summer, although there has been pressure from some operators to bring the date forward after T-Mobile and Orange’s EE 4G network went live last month.

If nothing else, it will be a good day for the British government’s coffers, as Simon Harris, director of PwC’s valuations team, points out: “The reserve prices implemented will generate at least £1.3bn for the Exchequer from the auction, but we expect demand for this prime real estate of the airwaves to drive prices up to £2-4bn. The desire for sub 1GHz spectrum is likely to be a key driver of competitive tension.” 

Disruptive technology

Concerns Mobile Marketing recently outlined about the interference 4G will cause to digital TV boxes are resurfacing, with Crystal Palace and Lancashire transmitters potentially experiencing the worst problems.

MP John Whittingdale, chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, has called for trials before the big rollout.

He told The Daily Mail: “One of my concerns is that the government is making the filters available only for households primarily using digital terrestrial TV, and yet there will be a large number of additional households that have second sets and they will not receive filters. I have been informed that 38,500 households will still be affected after filter installation and that, of those, perhaps 18,000 will be primary digital terrestrial television households.”

Meanwhile, an auction for 2G licences has just been announced in India, with five telcos, including Vodafone, expressing an interest.

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