Ofcom has received an application from EE Limited to trade its unpaired 2.6 GHz spectrum (2595-2620 MHz) from its Spectrum Access licence no. 1191194 to Telefonica UK Limited.
The proposed trade is being considered by Ofcom under the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011 (as amended in 2013, 2015 and 2019, “the 2011 Regulations”) and in accordance with Ofcom’s usual spectrum trading processes. Under regulation 8, Ofcom’s consent is required before the spectrum in these bands can be traded. In determining whether or not to consent to a proposed transfer, one of the things that Ofcom takes into account is whether competition is likely to be distorted as a result of the transfer. Our initial view is that there would be a low risk of competition concerns resulting from this trade.
In relation to this proposed trade, Ofcom has determined that the requirements (under regulation 7(1) of the 2011 Regulations) which concern the description of the parties and details of the proposed trade have been met. Ofcom is now inviting interested parties to submit comments by 30 October 2020 detailing any competition concerns they might have about the proposed trade, as set out in the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011.
The details of the proposed transfers will be posted on Ofcom’s Transfer Notification Register.
Submissions should be sent to: email@example.com.
No comments were received following Ofcom’s invitation to interested parties to submit comments by 30 October 2020 detailing provide any competition concerns they might have about the proposed trade, as set out in the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011.
Therefore, Ofcom has consented to the transfer in accordance with Regulation 7(3)(a) of the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011 and the trade has been completed in accordance with regulation 7(5).
Fixed wireless access (FWA) systems are a means of making fixed connections between users’ premises and telecommunication networks. They may deliver a range of electronic traffic, including telephony, high speed data, television and multimedia services.
At higher frequencies, the availability of wider bandwidths and the technical characteristics provide opportunities for delivering broadband wireless access (BWA), including as a backhaul for other telecommunications services. At frequencies in the 3 GHz band and lower where BWA has been used previously for delivering ‘last mile’ connections to user premises, developments in technologies now provide the opportunity to support mobility of user terminals within the coverage area of a BWA service.
There are currently a variety of access technologies that can be used for the delivery of broadband and fixed wireless access. These include, but are not limited to; WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), LTE (Long Term Evolution), HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), WCDMA (Wide band – Code Division Multiple Access) etc.
The choice of spectrum bands for such technologies is primarily a decision for industry. Ofcom does not allocate spectrum to particular access technologies, and where a licence has been issued in a technology neutral manner, the holder of that licence will be able to make their own choice of access technology.
Ofcom’s Spectrum Information System gives information about particular spectrum bands (UKPFA) and current tradable licences (WTR), including contact details of licensees. Spectrum trading is described in the Trading Guidance Notes (PDF, 668.3 KB).
Licence-exempt short range wideband data transmission systems are permitted in the 2.4 GHz band, described in the information pages for Short Range Devices and are subject to meeting the technical requirements set out for 2.4 GHz in the UK Interface Requirement IR 2030 (PDF, 1.3 MB).
In 2018, Ofcom awarded licences by auction in the 2.3 (2350-2390 MHz) and 3.4 GHz (3410-3600 MHz) spectrum bands, alongside a licence already held by UK Broadband Ltd: Spectrum Access 3.5 GHz (3480-3500 MHz and 3580-3600 MHz). Details of current licences and licensees are published at Mobile and Wireless Broadband below 5 GHz.
UK Broadband also holds a Spectrum Access 3.6 GHz licence* (3600-3680) in the adjacent spectrum band. On 28 October 2019 Ofcom published a consultation on the process to award the remaining spectrum in the 3600-3800 MHz band (and 700 MHz band). The auction is expected to take place from Spring 2020.
These bands are harmonised across Europe for mobile broadband and are likely to be used for 4G and 5G services.
Launched in December 2019, spectrum is also available in the 2390-2400 MHz and 3.8 – 4.2 GHz bands (among others) under the Shared Access licence.
[* UK Broadband’s 3.6 GHz licence also includes spectrum in the 3.9 GHz (3925-4009 MHz) band]
Licence-exempt short range wireless access systems and radio local area networks are permitted at low power levels in the 5 GHz Bands A, B and C (5150-5350 MHz, 5470-5725 MHz & 5725 – 5850 MHz), described in the information pages for Short Range Devices subject to meeting the technical requirements set out for 5 GHz WAS/RLAN in the UK Interface Requirement IR 2030 (PDF, 1.3 MB).
Licences are also available for Fixed Wireless Access in 5.8 GHz Band C (5725 – 5850 MHzon a non-exclusive basis at higher power than the exempt devices level. Details of the licensing process can be found at: 5.8 GHz Fixed Wireless Access.
An overview of available options in the 5 GHz bands is published in 5GHz Wireless Access Systems (PDF, 135.7 KB).
In November 2000, the Radiocommunications Agency auctioned several 28 GHz Broadband Fixed Wireless Access licences. It offered licence packages of 2 x 112 MHz in each of 11 English regions, plus Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In 2008, Ofcom auctioned spectrum suitable for Broadband Wireless Access in four frequency bands:
10 GHz Band 10.125-10.225 GHz paired with 10.475-10.575 GHz;
28 GHz Bands 27.8285-28.4445 GHz paired with 28.8365-29.4525 GHz;
32 GHz Band 31.815-33.383 GHz; and
40 GHz Band 40.5-43.5 GHz.
Details of the award process are in the awards archive on our website at 10 - 40 GHz Award.
This award included the remaining unsold 28 GHz packages and, following a consultation process in 2013, most of the licence packages from the original award have been liberalised (PDF, 510.3 KB) in order to align their operating and technical conditions with those from the 2008 award.
Frequency bands licensed for Mobile and Wireless Broadband
791 – 821 MHz
832 – 862 MHz
880 – 915 MHz
925 – 960 MHz
1452 – 1492 MHz
1710 – 1781.7 MHz
1805 – 1876.7 MHz
Concurrent Spectrum Access
1781.7 – 1785 MHz
1876.7 – 1880 MHz
1920 – 1980 MHz
2110 – 2170 MHz
1900 – 1920 MHz
2350 – 2390 MHz
2500 – 2570 MHz
2620 – 2690 MHz
2570 – 2620 MHz
3410 – 3600 MHz
3605 – 3689 MHz
3925 – 4009 MHz
10.125 – 10.225 GHz
10.475 – 10.575 GHz
28 GHz Spectrum Access
27.8285 – 28.4445 GHz
28.8365 – 29.4525 GHz
31.815 – 32.571 GHz
32.627 – 33.383 GHz
40.5 GHz – 43.5 GHz
Most mobile spectrum licences are still within the initial periods granted under award processes and are not subject to further spectrum fees until these periods expire.
However, spectrum in the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency bands that was licensed before the use of spectrum auctions is subject to annual payment of spectrum fees. In 2010, the Government directed Ofcom to revise the fees for 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum licences to reflect the full market value of those frequencies. Since then some spectrum in the 3 GHz band has also become subject to fees.
Ofcom consulted in June 2018 on Annual Licence Fees for 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands and in December 2018 on Annual Licence Fees for 3.4 GHz and 3.6 GHz spectrum, which have now been implemented.