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Ofcom confirms next spectrum launch in January 2021

Paul Lipscombe
August 3, 2020

Three currently holds the most amount of 5G spectrum acquired from previous auctions with 140Mhz

Ofcom has confirmed plans to auction important airwaves to boost mobile broadband and support the 5G rollout next year.

The auction will take place in January 2021, with the total number of airwaves available for mobile in the UK up by a fifth.

Operators will be able to bid for spectrum in the 700MHz band and 3.6 to 3.8GHz band.

The regulator has revealed it is releasing 80MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band, which will boost mobile coverage indoors and across wide areas.

Ofcom will also release 120MHz of spectrum in the 3.6 to 3.8GHz band. This will allow for people to carry more data, plus increase the capacity and quality of mobile data services.


Ofcom’s spectrum group director Philip Marnick said: “Demand for getting online on the move is soaring, and the pandemic has only increased the importance of mobile services to people and businesses.

“Releasing these airwaves promptly will bring a much-needed capacity boost, helping mobile customers get a better service.”

Ofcom will release the spectrum in a range of lots. There will be six lots of 2 x 5 MHz (60MHz in total) in the 700MHz band with a reserve price of £100 million per lot.

There is also four lots of 5MHz (20MHz) to be released as part of the 700MHz downlink-only spectrum. This comes with a reserve price of £1 million.

And there will be 24 lots of 5MHz (120MHz) of the 3.6 to 3.8GHz spectrum available, at a reserve price of £20m per lot.


There is a 37 per cent cap is in place on overall spectrum holdings, that operators can obtain.

BT (EE) will be limited to acquiring 120MHz, Three 185MHz, Vodafone 190MHz. There will be no cap on O2, due to its current spectrum holdings.

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