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Qualcomm to sell off spectrum in the UK

News

UK operators could be set for a fresh windfall of spectrum after Qualcomm announced it is planning to sell its own holding in the L-Band.

The announcement follows a recent vote at the European Commission where it approved the use of the band, from 1452-1492MHz, for supplemental downlink.

Qualcomm UK Spectrum, a subsidiary of the chipset maker that owns the rights to the band, said it would offer it for sale. As well as the approval from Europe, the terms of Qualcomm's licence have been varied by Ofcom in order to faciltate the sale.

It is currently unclear exactly how much spectrum Qualcomm will have available for sale.

The UK is set for a spectrum windfall during the next 12 months, with the regulator Ofcom planning to sell off spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, both of which were formerly used by the public sector.

The regulator has suggested selling it off in two separate tranches, given the pending upheaval in the UK market. BT is waiting approval for its takeover of EE and Three has also agreed a deal to take over O2. Both deals would substantially transform the combined operators' network holdings.

The spectrum will be key for operators to satisfy the demand for mobile data usage. According to Ericsson's latest Mobility Report, the number of smartphone subscriptions in Europe will increase from 450 million to 830 million by 2020 .

Video will drive data consumption, with smartphone traffic from 1.2GB per month to 6.5GB per month in five years.