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Update on Ofcom’s auction plans and consultation on technical model

Ofcom has published a consultation on one aspect of the technical modelling in its statement on the award of spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands.

These airwaves are important for helping improve mobile services and support 5G – bringing benefits to mobile users and the wider economy.
So we want to see the spectrum put to use as soon as possible, and we remain committed to releasing the airwaves through an auction.

One company said that it had hoped to be able to comment on the use of a technical model which informed part of the decisions in our statement on the award of this spectrum, published in March. So today we have published more information about that model and adjusted some of the results we published in our statement.

The revised results, remain consistent with our view that it is likely to be technically feasible to support a wide range of 5G services with holdings of 5G ready spectrum smaller than 80 MHz.

We welcome comments on the matters set out in this consultation by 12 June 2020.

Auction plans

We are separately considering how our processes for running spectrum auctions securely and safely could be adapted to the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our priority will be both to ensure the appropriate personal safety of those involved and the integrity of the process – in particular its security and resilience.

For these reasons, we do not think it would be appropriate to commence the auction itself until we are reasonably confident it can be completed without interruption.

If there is no litigation of our final auction decision, following today’s further consultation, we consider that the earliest bidding could start is November 2020. We recognise that this is dependent on how the Government’s plans for lifting the current lockdown restrictions evolve.

We also welcome industry’s views on how they would operate secure bidding processes in these circumstances.

—South Gatearc

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