UK telecoms watchdog Ofcom has announced the winners of its 4G spectrum auction. The regulatory body kicked off its auction in late January and said there was a total of seven bidders taking part. There were Everything Everywhere, which already has its 4G network up and running, as well as HKT, Hutchison 3G, MLL Telecom, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a subsidiary of BT), Telefonica UK (O2), and Vodafone.
Today Ofcom revealed that there were five winning bidders in the auction. The company said in a statement that after more than 50 rounds of bidding, Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G UK, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a subsidiary of BT Group), Telefónica UK and Vodafone have all won spectrum. According to Ofcom, 4G services from a range of operators expected within six months.
"The auction has achieved Ofcom’s purpose of promoting strong competition in the 4G mobile market. This is expected to lead to faster mobile broadband speeds, lower prices, greater innovation, new investment and better coverage," Ofcom said today. "Almost the whole UK population will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017 at the latest."
The seven bidders were vying for 28 lots of spectrum spread over two separate bands. The lower frequency 800 MHz band is part of the ‘digital dividend’ freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off. The higher frequency 2.6 GHz band is said to be ideal for delivering the capacity needed for faster speeds.
Everything Everywhere purchased 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz and 2 x 35 MHz of 2.6 GHz for a total of £588,876,000 while Hutchison 3G bought 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz for a total of £225,000,000. Niche Spectrum Ventures (a BT Group subsidiary) snapped up 2 x 15 MHz of 2.6 GHz and1 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired) for £186,476,000 and Telefónica UK ponied up £550,000,000 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz. Lastly, Vodafone, the biggest spender of all, bought 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz, 2 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz and 1 x 25 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired) for a grand total of £790,761,000. The total raised was £2,341,113,000.