Qualcomm sells UK L-Band spectrum to Vodafone and Three

1452–1492 MHz spectrum can be used to supplement mobile operators’ existing 4G downlink services to boost capacity and enhance the end user experience

Qualcomm sells UK L-Band spectrum to Vodafone and Three

Qualcomm is to sell its UK L-Band (1452–1492 MHz) spectrum holdings to Vodafone UK and Three UK with each operator taking a 20MHz block. Details of the terms of the sales have not been disclosed and none of the parties has confirmed the price, but total figures of around £100m are being bandied about. Whatever the price, Qualcomm will have made a handsome profit given that it bought the spectrum at auction in 2008 for just £8.3m.

The sale was expected having been widely trailed in June this year after the EU harmonised and mandated the L-band spectrum for mobile broadband use in May 2015. The spectrum can be used for what is called Supplemental Downlink (SDL). SDL enables mobile network operators to aggregate the spectrum with existing licensed 4G frequency division duplexing (FDD) bands to boost capacity on the downlink to help meet the increased demand for mobile data traffic.

Qualcomm originally bought the spectrum with an eye to using it for mobile TV broadcasting using its MediaFLO technology, but this never took off leaving the company with a block of unused spectrum on its hands. In October 2013, Qualcomm applied to Ofcom for a change of use in its licence to enable the L-Band to be used for SDL. In May 2015, Ofcom agreed to the request and the licence was varied in June.

Both sales are subject to regulatory approval and the usual closing conditions. Both Qualcomm UK Spectrum (the Qualcomm subsidiary holding the spectrum) and Vodafone UK and Three UK will need to submit respective applications to transfer the spectrum for UK communications regulator Ofcom approval.

See also:
Qualcomm UK puts 1.4GHz spectrum holding up for auction

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