BT and Vodafone pay premium for preferred spectrum

UK 4G spectrum licence winners BT and Vodafone have paid an additional fee to UK regulator Ofcom for preferred spectrum in the regulator’s final ‘assignment’ stage of the nation’s 4G auction. The final stage determines where each bidder’s holdings will sit in the radio spectrum.

Winning bidders of spectrum were given the opportunity to “top up” their bids, in order to reflect any preference they had over where in the frequency bands their new spectrum would be located, the regulator revealed.

Niche Spectrum Ventures – a subsidiary of BT – paid over £15m to be allocated the spectrum bands 2,520MHz to 2,535MHz and 2,640MHz to 2,655MHz.

Vodafone, which spent the most of all bidders to acquire spectrum, opted to pay more than £8m to be allocated the spectrum bands 801MHz to 811MHz and 842MHz to 852MHz. In addition, the operator paid a further £4m to be allocated the spectrum bands 2,500MHz to 2,520MHz and 2,620MHz to 2,640MHz.

EE and 3UK did not pay additional fees to dictate where their newly acquired spectrum sits, while O2 was not involved in the assignment stage. The spectrum it won carried an obligation to provide a mobile broadband to at least 98 per cent of the UK population. The winner of this lot was automatically allocated the spectrum bands 811MHz to 821MHz and 852MHz to 862MHz, in accordance with the auction regulations.

The total amount paid in the assignment stage was £27.1m.

The winning bidders have now been issued with licences to use the relevant spectrum holdings, and are now free to deploy 4G networks subject to the conditions of those licences, said Ofcom.

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