The UK regulator has said that it will attach minimum service obligations to the spectrum it puts up for sale

The UK’s telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has said that it plans to put more spectrum up for auction in the second half of 2019, as the UK looks to ramp up its preparations for 5G.

Ofcom plans to put two distinct blocks of spectrum up for auction, in the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz bands.

Ofcom has also announced that it will attach a number of coverage obligations to the sale, in an attempt to boost rural connectivity across the country.

Among the obligations will be to extend "good, outdoor data coverage to at least 90 per cent of the UK’s entire land area within four years of the award", and "providing coverage from at least 500 new mobile mast stations in rural areas".

“Mobile coverage has improved across the UK this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a signal. We’re particularly concerned about mobile reception in rural areas," said Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, Philip Marnick.

“As we release new airwaves for mobile, we’re planning rules that would extend good mobile coverage to where it’s needed. That will help ensure that rural communities have the kind of mobile coverage that people expect in towns and cities, reducing the digital divide.”

Ofcom has said that it will discount spectrum attached to these obligations by as much as £300-£400 million, in an attempt to properly incentivise UK telcos to boost their coverage in rural areas.

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