02/02/2018: Please note we have issued a correction to the “Process guidance to potential applicants and bidders in the auction” relating to the fax number in paragraph A1.11. The correct fax number is 020 7261 9018.
This notice updates on the forthcoming auction of licences for the use of spectrum in the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands.
Ofcom considers that it is in the public interest for the auction to take place as soon as possible, in light of the significant and immediate demand for access to the spectrum, and the immediate and direct benefits to consumers of faster, higher quality mobile data services that can be offered using the spectrum.
Ofcom had planned to hold the auction in Autumn 2017, but it has been delayed by litigation brought by Three and BT/EE. Following an expedited court process recognising the strong public interest in proceeding with the auction, the High Court upheld Ofcom’s decision and dismissed both claims on 20 December 2017.
However, Three has now sought permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is also expediting that appeal, which will be heard on 13 and 14 February 2018.
The litigation by Three is continuing to delay access to the spectrum and the benefits to consumers and businesses that can flow from it. We are keen to ensure that we are in a position to move as quickly as possible to hold the auction, once the judgment of the Court of Appeal has been given.
We have therefore decided to proceed to make the auction Regulations, which we intend to do on Wednesday 24 January 2018. Once the Regulations are in force, we intend to progress a number of the preliminary steps in the auction process, pending the outcome of Three’s appeal. These are steps (as described below) that we would need to take whether or not the Court of Appeal upholds our decision, and the judgment of the High Court.
Ofcom gives notice that it intends to make the Regulations for the auction of spectrum in the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands on Wednesday 24 January 2018, coming into effect on Wednesday 31 January 2018.
On the day the Regulations are made, we will also publish a document containing guidance on how potential bidders can apply to take part in the auction.
The Regulations will be published by The Stationery Office and will enter into force on the specified date. Once the Regulations are in force, we will announce the date on which we will accept applications. Applicants must provide the information required by the Regulations and transfer to Ofcom an initial deposit of £100,000. We anticipate the day for receipt of applications will be around 7 days after the Regulations come into force.
We propose to commence the steps necessary to decide whether to qualify applicants to participate in the auction immediately after application day. We will stop short of formally qualifying bidders until after the Court of Appeal’s decision is announced, and all parties know whether Ofcom’s decision to impose an overall spectrum cap at 340 MHz is upheld.
Once the judgment of the Court is known, applicants will in accordance with the Regulations have a period to indicate to Ofcom whether they wish to withdraw from the award process and be refunded their initial deposit prior to the “last day for withdrawal”. Ofcom will notify applicants of the last day for withdrawal, which we expect to be no less than 3 days after we publish the list of qualified applicants.
If we have to change any of the Regulations in light of the Court of Appeal’s judgment we will do so with utmost expedition to minimise further delay.
Public Sector Spectrum Release (PSSR): Award of the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands Consultation published 07|11|2014 This consultation covered a range of issues, including more detailed proposals on auction design and process, and on the technical and non-technical licence conditions we intend to apply. It also included our assessment of competition issues pertaining to a UK mobile network market with four national wholesalers.
Public Sector Spectrum Release (PSSR): Technical coexistence issues for the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz award Consultation published 19|02|2014 This consultation set out our proposals for addressing the coexistence of LTE with users of adjacent spectrum bands, and included our assessment of the potential for interference between 2.3 GHz LTE and users of the licence exempt 2.4 GHz band including Wi-Fi. We also considered other coexistence issues for the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz award, including issues for medical devices, satellites and radar.