Ofcom has just confirmed its next spectrum auction will begin next Tuesday (20th March), selling off slices of the 4G and 5G spectrum to networks wishing to expand their wireless portfolios.
The auction in question is specifically focused on the 40MHz frequency in the 2.3GHz band and 150MHz in the 3.4GHz band, with six networks cleared to place bids. The usual suspects are there in the form of EE/BT, Telefonica UK (O2), Vodafone, and Hutchinson 3G UK (Three), alongside fixed wireless broadband provider Connexin, and Airspan Spectrum Holdings.
Airspan Spectrum Holdings might seem unfamiliar because it's quite new on the scene, but ISPReviews notes that it shouldn't be underestimated seeing as how it recently purchased a large chunk of Irish mobile spectrum. The UK-based subsidiary of US firm Airspan clearly has some plans for Europe.
Itg's also worth noting that EE is barred from bidding on the 2.3GHz band, because it already owns so much of that portion of the spectrum - which is best suited to 4G services. It had taken Ofcom to court claiming the 37 per cent limit was totally unfair, but lost. EE is also limited in how much of the 5G-friendly 3.4GHz band can be purchased, with Ofcom telling the network it's only allowed to buy 85MHz.
Three has also hoped to successfully sue Ofcom claiming the 37 per cent limit was too high and unfairly weighed in EE's favour. That made it harder for other networks to compete, given the network's vast vaults of BT-based cash. It too lost.
5G services aren't expected to arrive for another couple of years at the earliest, but the auction means networks can purchase a chunk of the spectrum to get some serious testing underway. Some of that testing has already started in localised areas (like the O2 Arena) but this should mean they can do things on a much larger scale.
According to Ofcom the auction is set to take place over "a number of weeks", at which point it'll make the winners known. [ISPReviews]