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Ofcom to tackle 4G demand with spectrum auction next year

Ofcom is looking to ease the strain on the UK network providers by auctioning off some new spectrum bands.

Bidders will be invited to shell out corporate dosh on the newly-freed frequencies in late 2015 or early 2016.

The bands in question clock in at 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz frequencies, which Ofcom says “could be suitable for providing very high data capacity” (read: 4G).

It’s fertile frequency ground too, largely because plenty of high end handsets are compatible with the 2.3GHz band – the iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy S5, and the Sony Xperia Z3 to name a few.

The 3.4GHz frequency is already being used for 4G wireless broadband in several countries, including the UK, which is why Ofcom is only auctioning off around 190MHz combined spectrum from the two bands.

The airborne real estate won’t come cheap though – Ofcom is proposing a £1 million reserve for the 3.4GHz spectrum, and a £2.5 to £5m reserve per lot for the 2.3GHz spectrum.

Ofcom says the auction will be ‘fair and transparent’, with the spectrum set to be awarded ‘in the best interests of consumers’.

Growing demand for 4G is making life pretty difficult for network operators right now, with average data speeds actually falling since the UK launch of LTE as a result of the increased uptake.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, said: “Today marks an important step in ensuring that the UK has sufficient spectrum to support our wireless economy.

“It comes in response to the fast pace of change and innovation taking place in the communications sector, which is placing increased demands on how spectrum is used by all industries,” he explained.

“One important way of meeting this demand is making new spectrum available and its use as flexible as possible.”

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