Litigation brought by EE and Three has delayed the auction, but Ofcom has now set out a timetable in preparation for the auction
The UK’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced plans to press ahead with its 5G spectrum auction, despite a persisting legal challenge from Three.
"Ofcom believes it is in the public interest for the auction to take place as soon as possible in light of the significant and strong demand for access to the spectrum, and the immediate and direct benefits to consumers of faster, higher quality mobile data services that can be offered using the spectrum," read an Ofcom release to the press.
The 2.3 GHz band to be auctioned can be used by operators to improve their existing service to customers. However, the much coveted 3.4 GHz spectrum band, which will be the basis for 5G technology, is also up for auction.
The auction process has been delayed by litigation brought by network operators Three and EE (BT). The litigation was dismissed by the courts on the 20th December 2017, and Ofcom’s decision was upheld. However, Ofcom anticipates fresh litigation from Three. Despite this, it has opted to press ahead with preparations for its spectrum auction, so that it can act quickly following the final court judgement.
"Three has now sought permission to appeal on to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is also expediting that appeal, which will be heard on 13 and 14 February 2018… We are keen to ensure that we can move as quickly as possible to hold the auction once the judgment of the Court of Appeal has been given," read the statement.
Ofcom will publish the new regulations to govern the auction of the 24th January, with the regulations coming into force on 31st January 2018. Ofcom is expected to announce the deadline dates for applications after the 31st January.
David Dyson CEO of Three and Marc Allera CEO of EE will be speaking at this year’s Connected Britain event, where they will be discussing the UK’s move towards 5G and the optimisation of spectrum regulation