Vodafone 5G

Vodafone wants upcoming 5G auction scrapped

Vodafone wants the UK government to scrap the upcoming auction of 5G spectrum following the government decision to ban the use of Huawei equipment in future networks.

Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffrey said that those operators that are required to remove Huawei’s gear from their networks will have to use financial resources that could have been used to acquire 5G spectrum.

Earlier this week, the government announced that Huawei’s gear needs to be completely removed from the country’s 5G networks by the end of 2027, while also implementing a total ban on the purchase of new Huawei kit for 5G, starting next year.

The decision by the government could delay 5G rollout in the UK by up to three years and add £2 billion of additional costs to operators.

Vodafone is proposing that operators could receive a share of 5G airwaves in exchange for the reserve price, which would result in lower investments in the acquisition of 5G frequencies. Vodafone say this would help offset the costs of removing Huawei equipment from existing networks.

In March, Ofcom confirmed that it had finalised rules for the upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz bands.

The regulator plans to release 80 megahertz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band, as well as 120 megahertz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band.

The auction will involve two stages: a principal one which will see operators placing offers for airwaves separately to determine the amount of spectrum they get; and an assignment phase involving a round of bidding to decide on the specific frequencies which will be allocated.

Ofcom said that the winners of 3.6-3.8 GHz spectrum will be able to negotiate their placements within the band among themselves in order to give them the opportunity to create more continuous blocks of 5G-ready spectrum.

The regulator stated it was looking to maintain strong competition in the market by imposing a 37% cap on the overall spectrum available to any one company.

The 37% cap on overall spectrum holdings has the effect of restricting existing mobile companies to acquiring the following amounts:

  • BT/EE will be able to acquire up to 120 megahertz.
  • Three and Vodafone will be able to acquire up to 185 megahertz and 190 meahertz.

Due to its current spectrum holdings, O2 will not be restricted by the cap.

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