Vodafone has acquired 40MHz of spectrum in the 3.6GHz band for next-generation 5G mobile services in Ofcom’s auction at a cost of £176.4 million (€205.97 million).
Vodafone now holds 90MHz of 3.4 – 3.6GHz spectrum. The new spectrum acquired will enable Vodafone UK to significantly expand 5G network capacity to meet the growing demand for fast, reliable, high-quality data services.
The UK’s second 5G spectrum auction began Friday, with Ofcom confirming that EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone are all participating. This is the first phase in the two-phase process, in which the carriers competed for individual lots of spectrum, with the second phase relating to the specific positions of the spectrum blocks being awarded.
The spectrum made available is 80MHz in the 700MHz band, which has been cleared over the last four years by its previous users in the digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphones, as well as 120MHz of spectrum in 3.6–3.8 GHz band.
This auction in fact comes after some minor delays caused by the coronavirus, the advent of which actually saw some of the UK’s carriers argue that Ofcom should simply allocate the available spectrum at the reserve price. Once again, Ofcom rejected these pleas, arguing that there was no feasible way for them to simply allocate the spectrum quickly, efficiently, and fairly in light of their duties.
Ahmed Essam, Chief Executive, Vodafone UK, said:
“This auction will boost our 5G network capacity. It means we will have the spectrum we need to further the roll-out of 5G to our customers, bringing high-speed connectivity and opening up new opportunities for products and services.
“We have been successful in the 3.6GHz band and have avoided expenditure on low-band spectrum, where it is our strategy to re-farm over time our significant 900MHz holdings to carry 5G traffic.”
The spectrum acquired has a 20-year licence term through to 2041.