O2's 4G network to receive big boost after recent spectrum auction

Tween- Runway- MBFWI F  W 2013

Tween- Runway- MBFWI F W 2013

The principal stage of Ofcom's 5G spectrum auction is now complete and it looks as though O2 has won the 40MHz spectrum on both the 2.3GHz (4G) and the 3.4GHz (5G) bands.

The spectrum auction, where mobile network providers purchase the right to use certain "blocks" of radio frequencies, was widely seen as paving the way for future 5G services that are expected to launch around the year 2020.

The 3.4 GHz band was split between all four operators: EE took 40 MHz for £302.6 million; Hutchinson 3G United Kingdom, owner of Three, won 20 MHz for £151.3 million; Telefonica secured 40 MHz for £317.7 million; and Vodafone bought 50 MHz for £378.2 million.

Telefónica also scooped 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz spectrum which is available to use immediately for existing 4G services.

Ofcom will now move to the "assignment" stage, which is the last bidding stage of the auction.

Vodafone managed to secure 50MHz of the 3.4GHz spectrum after paying £378,240,000, increasing its total spectrum to 226MHz which leaves it in a strong position when 5G is finally switched on.

Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151,296,000.

Ofcom spectrum group director Philip Marnick said "Releasing these airwaves will make it quicker and easier to get online on the move". Ofcom said the final company involved, Airspan Spectrum Holdings, did not win spectrum in either band.

However, the vast amounts paid by the operators in the 2000 auction meant they struggled to generate an effective return on investment (ROI), and the UK's auction has subsequently been implicated as a major cause of the telecoms industry recession in the early 2000s. The new airwaves, or spectrum, are needed to underpin the internet of things, where, in the future, connected devices will be controllable via a smartphone from anywhere with a 5G connection.

Ofcom will issue the winning bidders with licences to use the relevant spectrum within a few days, allowing them to begin putting it to use.

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