UK regulator Ofcom has awarded 4G mobile spectrum to five companies – Everything Everywhere, Hutchison 3G, BT subsidiary Niche Spectrum Ventures, Telefónica UK and Vodafone – raising a less-than-expected £2.3 billion (€2.7 billion) for the Treasury.
According to Ofcom, almost the whole UK population will be able to receive 4G mobile services by the end of 2017 at the latest.
A total of 250 MHz of spectrum was auctioned in two separate bands – 800MHz and 2.6GHz – equivalent to two-thirds of the radio frequencies currently used by wireless devices. The lower-frequency 800MHz band is part of the ‘digital dividend’ freed up when analogue terrestrial TV was switched off, and should deliver more widespread mobile coverage. The higher-frequency 2.6 GHz band is deemed to be suited to delivering capacity for faster speeds.
BT spent £186 million to secure its slice of spectrum. The company plans to use the spectrum to complement its existing fixed and wireless services rather than to build its own mobile network.