With the UK set to begin 5G rollout in the second half of this year, 2019 promises to be a busy year for Ofcom

The UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has published its list of priorities for the year 2019/2020, placing 5G and rural connectivity at the top of the list.

"[The annual plan] is a great way of being able to explain why our work matters and what some of the areas are that we want to give a particular focus to. It’s also a way of being able to be held accountable for those areas," said Sharon White, CEO of Ofcom

As part of the release, Ofcom promised to deliver a focussed regulatory environment to oversee the rollout of 5G. BT is expected to launch commercial 5G mobile services in the second half of 2019, making the UK one of the first countries in Europe to deploy next generation mobile networks.

Ofcom also pledged to proceed with its spectrum auction as quickly as possible to expedite the rollout of 5G. It will make C Band spectrum in the 3.6-3.8GHz band available for use by the first quarter of 2020.

Ofcom will also auction off spectrum in the 700MHz band, alongside the C Band spectrum. The regulator will attach minimum service obligations to spectrum awards, and in turn will discount the auction price to encourage take up. Operators who win spectrum at auction will be required to extend network coverage to 90 per cent of the UK’s land mass within four years. In return, operators will see the spectrum they bid on discounted by around £350m.

"We want to see rural communities getting the kind of mobile coverage that people expect in towns and cities," the UK regulator said in a statement to the press.   

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