Ofcom updates on spectrum auction plans

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UK comms regulator Ofcom has published a consultation on one aspect of the technical modelling in its statement on the award of spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands.

These airwaves are important for helping improve mobile services and support 5G – bringing benefits to mobile users and the wider economy. Accordingly, Ofcom says it wants to see the spectrum put to use as soon as possible, and has confirmed it remains committed to releasing the airwaves through an auction.

One company said that it had hoped to be able to comment on the use of a technical model which informed part of the decisions in the Ofcom statement on the award of this spectrum, published in March 2020. Recognising this, Ofcom has published more information about that model and adjusted some of the results it published in the statement.

Ofcom says the revised results remain consistent with its view that it is likely to be technically feasible to support a wide range of 5G services with holdings of 5G-ready spectrum smaller than 80 MHz.

Ofcom welcomes comments on the matters set out in this consultation by June 12th 2020.

Ofcom is separately considering how its processes for running spectrum auctions securely and safely could be adapted to the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. Its priority will be both to ensure the appropriate personal safety of those involved and the integrity of the process – in particular, its security and resilience.

For these reasons, Ofcom does not think it would be appropriate to commence the auction itself until it is reasonably confident it can be completed without interruption.

If there is no litigation of its final auction decision, following further consultation, Ofcom considers that the earliest bidding could start is November 2020. Ofcom recognises that this is dependent on how the Government’s plans for lifting the current lockdown restrictions evolve.

Ofcom also welcomes industry’s views on how they would operate secure bidding processes in these circumstances.


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