The auction will allow operators to provide consumers with higher speed connections
UK regulator Ofcom has today confirmed the details of the UK’s first millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum auction, building on the plans initial confirmation in September.
The auction ranges across the 26GHz and 40GHz spectrum bands, which will be used by mobile operators to provide faster 5G speeds across 68 UK towns and cities. There will also be an assignment of more localised licenses within these areas under the shared access licensing framework.
“We are making large amounts of spectrum in the 26 GHz and 40 GHz bands (together,“mmWave spectrum”) available for new services, including 5G.1 The spectrum offers operators the opportunity to access very large contiguous blocks of frequencies, enabling innovative services and very high capacity and speeds,” said Ofcom in a statement.
The four mobile operators in the UK – EE, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, and Three UK – already have access to 5G spectrum in the 700MHz to 3.8GHz bands, which they already use to provide 5G mobile services and, in some cases, fixed wireless access.
The new mmWave spectrum 5G will offer event faster speeds and higher capacity than the existing 5G spectrum. However, the signals from these frequencies are very easily disrupted, limiting their range and penetration, meaning mmWave 5G will best suited to densely populated environments.
“The spectrum offers operators the opportunity to access very large contiguous blocks of frequencies, enabling innovative services and very high capacity and speeds,” continued Ofcom.
The auction will be split into three categories:
- 26 GHz lower (25.1–26.5 GHz)
- 26 GHz upper (26.5–27.5 GHz)
- 40 GHz (40.5–43.5 GHz)
Reserve prices will be £2m for each lot of 26 GHz spectrum and £1m for each lot of 40 GHz spectrum. The 26GHz is separated into two sections, in the upper and lowr parts of the band, as a result of “limitations on deployment of new uses of the spectrum during the five years or so in which some incumbent fixed links continue to operate in the 25.1-26.5 GHz part of the band in and around the high-density areas”.
The consultation statement can be found here. Ofcom is welcoming comments on the issues raised within, to be submitted by 9th January next year.
Ofcom says the auction will not be held until after a decision is made on the Vodafone–Three merger by the Competition and Markets Authority, which is not expected until September next year.
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