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Ofcom lays out rules for next spectrum auction

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UK telecom regulator Ofcom has outlined the rules for how it will award 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz spectrum in the next auction.

The date of the auction has not yet been specified but Ofcom will award national licences for 80 MHz in the 700 MHz band and 120 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band.

The licences will not include coverage obligations. Ofcom explained, “This is because the MNOs (mobile network operators) have committed to achieve more comprehensive mobile coverage in the Shared Rural Network programme than we would be able to require through coverage obligations in this award.”

“Their commitments, now agreed with the Government, are included in their current spectrum licences and are legally binding.”

Competition and contiguity

There will be a cap of 416 MHz (37%) on the total amount of spectrum designated for mobile services that any single MNO may hold, to support competition.

The auction will include a principal stage, using a simultaneous multiple round ascending (SMRA) format, in which bidding for frequency-generic lots will determine the amount of spectrum won by each bidder in each band. This will be followed by an assignment stage to determine the precise frequencies of lots won in the principal stage.

Ofcom says the assignment stage will contain measures to help defragmentation of the MNOs’ holdings in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band, including a period for negotiation in which winners of lots in the 3.63.8 GHz band will be able to agree between them the precise frequencies of those lots.