Ofcom has a duty to secure the optimal use of the radio spectrum. A key part of achieving this is to release available spectrum to the market, generally by means of an auction.
Licences to use the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum for 4G mobile broadband services have now been issued.
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. Almost the whole UK population will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017 at the latest.
A total of 250 MHz of spectrum was auctioned in two separate bands - 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz. This is equivalent to two thirds of the radio frequencies currently used by wireless devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.
The mobile network operators are responsible for ensuring that consumers continue to receive clear Digital Terrestrial Television signals following the roll out of 4G mobile services in the 800 MHz spectrum band. Visit www.at800.tv for more information.
Ofcoms approach to specific spectrum awards is assessed case by case. However, our general approach is to prepare an award, including determining spectrum packaging and auction design, in a way that is most likely to secure the optimal use of the spectrum. In doing this, we generally aim to give the market as much flexibility as possible to determine how the spectrum is used, without pre-determining the technologies or applications that may be used, while protecting neighbouring users from harmful interference.
The public sector has around half of the most useful spectrum and it uses it for a variety of services including defence, emergency services, transport and science.
Against a background of increasing demand for spectrum from both the public and private sectors, the Government announced in their March 2011 Enabling UK Growth - Releasing public spectrum that at least 500 MHz of public sector holdings below 5 GHz is planned to be released by 2020.
As part of the Government's plans, the Ministry of Defence has identified their bands for commercial sharing opportunities under its Defence Spectrum Reform work new sharing opportunities for public and private sector users. This is in addition to releases at 2300 and 3400 MHz that the MoD is planning to take to market in 2014.
Ofcom is providing technical and regulatory support for the MoDs 2.3 GHz, 3.4 GHz and sharing band releases.
Awards in progress
800 MHz and 2.6 GHz Combined Award