UK operators to battle two surprise entrants to Ofcom spectrum auction

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Vendor Airspan and urban Wi-Fi provider Connexin have been named as two surprise bidders in Ofcom’s upcoming spectrum auction.

The two firms will compete against mobile operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone in the first major spectrum auction since 2013.

Airspan is a US-based vendor of 4G solutions and has also competed in spectrum auctions in Ireland, while Connexin is a provider of fixed wireless connectivity to homes, businesses and municipalities.

Neither firm had responded to a request for comment by the time of publication.

[Read more: The O2 becomes 5G testbed as Telefonica seeks killer application]

The qualified participants now have three days to confirm whether they wish to take part. The regulator did not disclose details of disqualified bidders.

The auction will see Ofcom dispense around 29 percent of currently available spectrum including 40MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band, which can be used immediately as it is already supported by mobile devices.

It will also sell 150MHz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz band, which is expected to be used for the upcoming launch of 5G services.

The auction was originally planned for last year, but was delayed by legal action from EE and Three and will now take place at earliest in March.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom’s Spectrum Group Director, said: “We’re pressing ahead with the auction to make these airwaves available as quickly as possible.

“This will benefit today’s mobile users by providing more capacity for mobile broadband use. It will also pave the way for 5G - allowing operators to launch the next generation of mobile technology.”