Firms spend €1.35bn in mobile airwaves bids

By Sharon Marris, Business Reporter
Four of the UK's biggest telecoms companies have spent ?1.35bn in the first stage of bidding for mobile airwaves.
EE, Three, O2 and Vodafone were bidding for the ability to provide 4G and 5G mobile services in the UK.
The spectrum auction is run by the communication regulator Ofcom and all proceeds are paid to the Treasury.The first stage of the process involved 34 lots of spectrum being made available across two bands.The bands were previously used by the Ministry of Defence but have been released for more civilian use, which comes under Ofcom's remit.EE won 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum at a cost of €302.6m, while Three owner Hutchison picked up 20MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum for €151.3m.O2 parent Telefonica won all 40MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum available at €205.9m, as well as 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum for €317.7m.Telefonica UK chief executive Mark Evans said: "Our investment in 3.4GHz enables us to move forward to further improve connectivity whilst boosting the economy and laying the foundations for 5G in Britain."Vodafone won 50MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum at €378.2m.A fifth company, Slough-based Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd, did not win spectrum in either band.The next step is called the assignment stage and it allows the winners to bid for where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be.
It is the final bidding stage of the auction.The bidders will then be given Ofcom-issued licences enabling them to use their spectrum.Philip Marnick, Ofcom's spectrum group director, said: "This is good news for everyone who uses their mobile phone to access the internet."As a nation we're using ever more mobile data on smartphones and mobile devices."Releasing these airwaves will make it quicker and easier to get online on the move."It will also allow companies to prepare for 5G mobile, paving the way for a range of smart, connected devices."All wireless communications signals travel over the air via radio frequency or spectrum - including TV, radio, GPS, and mobile phone services.
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However, services cannot transmit signals over the same frequencies in the same markets at the same time, so these must be allocated by the regulator.Last month, a report claimed that the roll-out of 5G will save British households €450 a year on energy, council tax, and food bills.
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