Public Sector Spectrum Release
Update - 3rd December, 2015
On 26 October 2015, Ofcom published the statement Public Sector Spectrum Release (PSSR) Competition and auction design issues for the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz spectrum award, including reserve prices (the “Statement”). This sets out our decision to conduct an auction of the spectrum in the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands following the release of those bands to Ofcom by the Ministry of Defence as part of the Government’s Public Sector Spectrum Release programme.
The Statement sets out Ofcom’s intention to commence the auction process during December 2015. In the Statement, we recognised that there is demand for this spectrum and took the view that spectrum efficiency is best achieved by bringing available frequencies into use as soon as possible to benefit consumers.
Since the Statement was published, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has published its provisional findings on the proposed merger between BT Group plc and EE Limited. The European Commission has also announced its decision to launch an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger between Telefónica UK Limited and Hutchison 3G UK Limited. The CMA’s decision on the proposed merger of BT Group plc and EE Limited is expected in January 2016 and the Commission’s decision on the proposed merger of Telefónica UK Limited and Hutchison 3G UK Limited is expected no later than mid-May 2016.
In addition, on 19 and 20 November 2015, Ofcom received letters from Telefónica UK Limited and Hutchison 3G UK Limited respectively stating their intention to bring judicial review proceedings against Ofcom’s decision to commence the auction process before the outcome of the European Commission’s consideration of the proposed merger between those two companies.
After careful consideration, given these specific circumstances, we have decided for reasons of good public administration to delay commencing the auction process. Therefore, Ofcom will not now commence the auction process until the European Commission has taken its decision as to whether the proposed merger between Telefónica UK Limited and Hutchison 3G UK Limited is compatible with the common market.
End of update.
Ofcom will be managing the release of 190 MHz of radio spectrum formerly used by the Ministry of Defence for military purposes. With 40 MHz located in the 2.3 GHz band and another 150 MHz above 3.4 GHz, this spectrum is suitable for mobile broadband uses.
Having already completed a number of successful spectrum releases, including the recent 4G auction, Ofcom has significant experience and expertise in this area and is well positioned to manage the process.
We published on 16 October 2013 a document calling for inputs from potential users of this spectrum, also consulting on a 3.4 GHz band plan and varying UK Broadband Limited’s licence.
We published a consultation on 7 November 2014 seeking views on proposals for conducting an auction of this 190 MHz of spectrum. We set out our proposals on auction design , technical and non-technical licence conditions and a competition assessment. We expect the auction to take place in late 2015 or early 2016. We invite interested stakeholders to a workshop as part of our consultation.