700 MHz and 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz frequency bands auction
U.K. telecom regulator Ofcom finalized rules in March 2020, for the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz bands. The regulator plans to release 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band noting that the lower band can provide good-quality mobile coverage, both indoors and across very wide areas. For the 3.6-3.8 GHz band, 120 MHz of spectrum will be released.
The auction will involve two stages. First, bidders will take part in the auction process for the available spectrum. Then, a second stage will determine the specific frequencies which will be allocated.
The cap on overall spectrum holdings will be 37%. BT/EE will be able to acquire up to 120 MHz, Three, and Vodafone up to 185 MHz and 190 MHz respectively. O2 will not be restricted by the cap.
Last year, the UK telcos obtained spectrum for the future provision of 5G services. Vodafone spent 378 million GBP (412 million EUR) for 50 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz band, EE paid 303 million GBP (330 million EUR) for 40 MHz. Three secured 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum, paying 151.3 million GBP (165 million EUR), while O2 (Telefonica) won 40 MHz for 318 million GBP (347 million EUR).