Ofcom plans to auction more 4G spectrum later this year

Ofcom is planning a fresh spectrum auction that will improve 4G coverage later this year. The regulator has 190 MHz to allocate to the major mobile networks, and today it's launched a consultation with possible auction formats. The concern is that some of the biggest carriers are undergoing mergers -- BT is buying EE, while the owner of Three UK is trying to acquire O2. if Ofcom awards all of the spectrum now, the balance of power could change unexpectedly if the deals don't proceed as planned. However, it could be six months before they're approved, and even longer before the transactions are completed, and the regulator doesn't want to waste any time putting the spectrum to good use.

So, it's now proposing an auction format that would allocate some, but not all of the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands. The bulk could be awarded as early as this year, but a portion would be held back until the buyouts are complete. That way, Ofcom will retain the ability to rebalance the market should anything drastic happen. In theory, it would promote competition in the UK while improving your 4G connection as quickly as possible.