Ofcom has announced that the principal stage of the 3.6-3.8 GHz and 700 MHz has ended with 200 MHz of spectrum being awarded across all 4 mobile operators at a total price of £1.36bn. Whilst this might sound like an incredible amount of money (and will no doubt help Sumak with his post Covid-19 recovery plans), it is less than some expected. 

The auction now moves to the ‘assignment’ stage which involves companies bidding for the frequency positions they prefer for the airwaves they have secured in the principal stage. This will likely push the £1.36bn receipt higher.

After this, bidders will then have the opportunity to negotiate  the frequency positions among themselves. This will allow them to attempt to join together the new spectrum with that they already hold in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band, or that of their tower sharing partners. 

Contiguous spectrum allows for a more efficient network roll out with reduced capex. This is important as: (i) less capex could be passed through to consumers in the form of lower prices; and (ii) those that do not have contiguous spectrum could be at a cost disadvantage to those that do.