Mobile and wireless broadband
Ofcom has received applications from Telefonica UK Limited (‘Telefonica’) and Vodafone Limited (‘Vodafone’) for trades of the rights and obligations arising under their respective licences for 3500 – 3540 MHz (Telefonica’s licence 1151572) and 3720 – 3760 MHz (Vodafone’s licence 1248097), with no ultimate change in the overall quantity of spectrum holdings for each.
The proposed trades are being considered by Ofcom under the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011 (as subsequently amended) (“ the 2011 Regulations”). Under regulation 8, Ofcom’s consent to the proposed transfer is required.
Under the 2011 Regulations, Ofcom may conduct a competition assessment to determine whether the trades are likely to distort competition. We note that there will be no ultimate change in the overall quantity of spectrum holdings for either company as a result of the transfer. Our initial view is that these trades would not be likely to raise competition concerns.
Both companies said that they would need to carry out site updates and share access to both these spectrum blocks during a transition period running until 31 December 2025. They have therefore submitted separate, sequential, transfer applications to allow for this transition.
Concurrent transfers during the transition period
During the transition period, the rights and obligations for the use of the relevant frequencies would be concurrently held by Telefonica and Vodafone. It would be a condition of each concurrent licence that at any given time and location, the frequencies being used by each party would amount to no more than 50% of the total concurrently-held licensed spectrum.
Outright transfers after the transition period
Subsequent outright transfers taking effect from 1 January 2026 would result in:
- Vodafone being authorised to use the 3500 – 3540 MHz frequencies (to the exclusion of Telefonica) and
- Telefonica being authorised to use the 3720 – 3760 MHz frequencies (to the exclusion of Vodafone).
In relation to these proposed trades, 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 trades have been met.
Ofcom is now inviting interested parties to submit comments by Thursday 22 July, detailing any competition concerns they might have about the proposed trades, as set out in the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011.
The details of the proposed transfers will be posted on Ofcom’s Trade Notification Register.
Submissions should be sent to: email@example.com.
Update 10 August 2021
No comments were received following Ofcom’s invitation to interested parties to submit comments by 22 July 2021 detailing 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 transfers in accordance with Regulation 7(3)(a) of the Wireless Telegraphy (Mobile Spectrum Trading) Regulations 2011 and the trades have 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, 930.9 KB).
2.3 GHz, 3.4 – 3.8 GHz and 3.8 – 4.2 GHz
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, 930.9 KB).
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).
10 GHz, 28 GHz, 32 GHz & 40 GHz
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
Interface requirements, co-ordination and coverage documents
- IR 2014 - Public Wireless Networks (PDF, 140.0 KB)
- IR 2019 - Third Generation Mobile (PDF, 140.2 KB)
- IR 2045 - Concurrent Spectrum Access (PDF, 177.0 KB)
- IR 2068 - For Spectrum Access in the Band 1452 – 1492 MHz (PDF, 103.4 KB)
- IR 2072 - Terrestrial systems capable of providing ECS in the band 2500 to 2690 MHz (PDF, 157.3 KB)
- IR 2087 - 900 / 1800 MHz LTE and WiMAX (PDF, 141.7 KB)
- IR 2090 - Terrestrial systems capable of providing ECS in the 800 MHz band (PDF, 104.1 KB)
- IR 2092 - Terrestrial systems capable of providing ECS in the bands 1920-1980 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz (PDF, 105.8 KB)
- IR 2100 - Terrestrial systems capable of providing ECS in the band 1899.9-1920 MHz (PDF, 124.4 KB)
- IR 2101 - Backhaul for Emergency Services Gateway equipment in the 800 MHz and 1800 MHz bands (PDF, 61.1 KB)
- IR 2102 - Licence exempt static indoor and low gain mobile phone repeaters (PDF, 248.3 KB)
- IR 2098 - Terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the 2.3 GHz band (PDF, 115.7 KB)
- IR 2015 - Spectrum Access in the 3400 to 4009 MHz band (PDF, 122.3 KB)
- IR 2097 - Spectrum Access 3.4 to 3.8 GHz (PDF, 137.1 KB)
- IR 2047 - Spectrum Access 10 GHz (PDF, 119.2 KB)
- IR 2048 - Spectrum Access 28 GHz (PDF, 120.7 KB)
- IR 2049 - Spectrum Access 32 GHz (PDF, 119.7 KB)
- IR 2067 - Spectrum Access 40 GHz (PDF, 100.8 KB)
- UMTS 900 Coordination Procedure (PDF, 239.4 KB) (for UMTS900 with GSM-R)
- 2.3 GHz band MoD co-ordination procedure (PDF, 254.7 KB)
3.4 GHz band MoD co-ordination procedure (PDF, 274.0 KB)
- 2.6 GHz band radar co-ordination procedure (PDF, 401.6 KB)
3.4 GHz band radar co-ordination procedure (PDF, 264.6 KB)
- Protected radar list (PDF, 125.1 KB)
- Civil airfield boundary maps
- MOD airfield boundary maps
- Coordination document for 28 GHz: S28 GHz Spectrum Co-existence Document (PDF, 776.4 KB)
- Mobile Coverage
- Mobile indoor and in-vehicle repeaters
- Mobile operational and engineering enquiries and advice
- Exposure to electromagnetic fields
- Mobile Virtual Network Operators
- Mobile and Wireless Broadband below 5GHz
- Mobile and Wireless Broadband above 5GHz
- Spectrum bands and licence areas for 28 GHz (PDF, 126.7 KB)
International co-ordination MOUs
Administered Incentive Pricing (AIP) and cost-based fees
Mobile cellular fees
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.
Channel Islands and Isle of Man
- Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) Regulations 2011
- Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2012
- Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
- Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2014
- Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2015
- The Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2015
- The Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges) (Amendment) Regulations 2016
- The Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges for the 900 MHz Frequency Band and the 1800 MHz Frequency Band) Regulations 2018
- The Wireless Telegraphy (Licence Charges for the 3.4 GHz Frequency Band and the 3.6 GHz Frequency Band) Regulations 2019