UK Ministry of Defence to auction off 200MHz of radio spectrum

The Ministry of Defence is planning to auction some of its radio spectrum in the first direct sale of its kind by a government department

UK Ministry of Defence to auction off 200MHz of radio spectrum

The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) intends to auction around 200MHz of its spectrum usage rights under plans announced yesterday (17 December 2012). The MoD has identified two bands for sale between 2.3 and 4GHz and between 3.4 and 3.6GHz.

The MoD Said that the announcement comes as market demand for extra spectrum is mounting, fuelled by the sharp rise in the use of spectrum-hungry devices such as smartphones and tablets. 

The sale will give private operators the chance to buy more spectrum to support the introduction of fourth-generation mobile services to people in cities, towns and villages across the UK. Alternatively, the spectrum could be used by fixed-line operators to provide wireless access to broadband services.

The spectrum being sold by the MoD is all below 15GHz, which is regarded as the most useful and valuable part of the radio spectrum because of its wide range of applications.

Almost half of all spectrum below 15GHz is held by the public sector and is used for a broad range of services including defence, emergency services, transport and science. The MoD holds around three-quarters of all publicly-held spectrum and one-third of all spectrum below 15GHz.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said: ‘We welcome this opportunity to free up much-needed spectrum. We hope that the sale will help drive the roll-out of new generation networks and universal access to broadband, both of which are vital to the UK’s prosperity.’

The sale follows the announcement made in the Government’s 2010 Spending Review that at least 500MHz of public spectrum below 5GHz will be released by 2020 for new mobile communications uses.

The spectrum to be sold off is being cleared of military users to contribute towards this target.
Preparations are expected to start at the end of 2013, with the auction completed by the summer of 2014. Ahead of this, the MoD intends to produce an Industry Brochure in early spring 2013 and to host an Industry Day in early summer 2013.

Industry commentators have speculated that the MoD’s announcement may depress prices for the imminent auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum for mobile services. The UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom has put a reserve price of £1.3bn on the spectrum, but the Government is hoping for £3.5bn. The auction is expected to finish in March 2013.

Written by Wireless magazine
Wireless magazine

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