News from across the pond now. Ofcom has just announced the results of the UK’s 4G spectrum auction. For those of you that don’t know, Ofcom is the independent regulator of the UK’s communication industry, and its their job to oversee the distribution of our shiny new 4G network. The UK’s main operators bid for their preferred chunk of the network, and the money raised goes to the UK government.
This last came around in 2000, when Ofcom auctioned off the UK’s 3G network, raising around £20 billion, when you compared that with the mere £2.34 billion raised this year, it shows you just how much things have changed. In 2000, the tech world lived in the “dot com bubble”, and everything was awesome. Now, we’re coming off the back of a double-dip recession and a global economic crisis, operators are a little more reluctant to spend their money. Regardless, the auction went ahead, and all four major operators got a major slice.
- Vodafone UK was the top spender, splashin out £790.8 million for 800 MHz and 2.6GHz paired frequencies, plus a 2.6GHz unpaired block
- Everything Everywhere paid £588.9 million for 800MHz and 2.6GHz allocations, which will be used alongside its existing 1.8GHz LTE network
- Telefonica (The Spanish company which owns O2 won 800MHz block described as the “coverage allocation lot” for £550 million. The operator is obliged to provide services with indoor reception to at least 98 percent of the UK population (including at least 95 percent of the populations of each of the UK nations) by the end of 2017.
- 3 UK is paying £225 million for some frequencies in the 800MHz band. This operator has already announced a deal to acquire some 1.8GHz frequencies, also suitable for 4G services, from Everything Everywhere.
- Niche Spectrum Ventures (BT) paid £186.5 million for 2.6GHz paired and unpaired, which will enable BT to provide its customers with a better mobile broadband service. BT does not intend to build a national mobile network, according to Chief executive Ian Livingston.
The news can only wet the appetite for the UK’s full 4G rollout, which is getting closer every day. Ofcom also mentioned that it was “planning now to support the release of further spectrum for possible future ‘5G’ mobile services”. Crazy stuff.