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Out-Law News 1 min. read

Ofcom to auction off MOD radio spectrum

UK telecoms regulators Ofcom is to manage the sale of radio spectrum currently owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to commercial operators.

Late last year the MoD announced that it was going to sell off approximately 200 MHz of frequency band in what it said would the "first direct sale of its kind" by a department of Government.

Now it has announced that Ofcom will manage the spectrum and make it available "for commercial use".

"Ofcom are experienced in managing radio spectrum sales," Philip Dunne, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, said in a statement. "I am confident they will oversee a competitive and fair process. Freeing up this spectrum will be good for business and good for consumers. It is a valuable step in driving growth and building a stronger economy."

In February Ofcom announced the results of a radio spectrum auction it conducted to help telecoms operators deliver '4G' services. The term '4G' is generally used to refer to mobile broadband services delivered using mobile broadband technologies such as Long Term Evolution and WiMAX.

Vodafone, Everything Everywhere (EE), Telefónica (O2), Hutchison 3G (Three) and Niche Spectrum Ventures (a BT subsidiary) spent more than £2.3 billion between them in acquiring the spectrum for the purposes of delivering 4G services.

Last month Ofcom asked the UK's telecoms industry to help it identify existing frequency bands within which tests on spectrum sharing could be conducted after admitting to having concerns about whether the amount of available spectrum can meet consumer demand for wireless data services.

In its consultation, the regulator described existing spectrum as being a "scarce and valuable resource" due to a combination of factors, including the growing use of mobile devices to access the internet and Wi-Fi networks to connect people to the internet via fixed line broadband networks.

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