Ofcom has reveal plans to auction off more valuable high capacity spectrum in the UK. It says the auction of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands will take place in late 2015 or early 2016 and provide the possibility for companies to meet the growing demand for mobile broadband services.
Bidders for the spectrum will probably come from the mobile industry, thinks Ofcom. It says that both the "2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum bands are frequencies which could be suitable for providing very high data capacity". The proposals are that a total of 190MHz of spectrum in the two bands will be auctioned off. That is approximately equivalent to three quarters of the airwaves released in the 4G auction last year. The auction will be split into 38 lots and no one operator can hold more than 37 per cent of the relevant spectrum by the end of the auction.
The organisation notes that several major smartphones are already compatible with these frequencies in other markets. Newer Apple iPhone, HTC Desire and Samsung Galaxy handsets are among those supporting 2.3GHz for example, as it is used by 4G operators in countries including China, India and Australia. The 3.4GHz band is used by 4G operators in six countries including the UK, Canada and Spain.
In the UK, 3.4-3.5GHz spectrum is currently being used by UK Broadband for its ‘Relish’ mobile broadband service in London.
According to Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, these plans are now being put in place to ensure "that the UK has sufficient spectrum to support our wireless economy". It can't come soon enough if a PCPro report, published yesterday, turns out to be true. Research conducted by OpenSignal and consumer watchdog Which? recorded a rapid decline in UK 4G speeds between 9/2013 and 8/2014. The average speeds dropped from around 19Mbps to 10Mbps during that time. If the downward trajectory of 4G continues unchecked its extra speed claim will be lost in practical situations.