The U.K. has completed its latest 5G spectrum auction, raising a total of GBP 1.35 billion ($1.88 billion), telecommunications regulator Ofcom said in a release.

Ofcom said that local carriers EE, Hutchison 3G UK, Telefonica’s O2 and Vodafone took part in the principal stage of the auction, which involved them bidding for airwaves in 34 lots to determine how much of the available spectrum they each secured.

EE secured 2×10 megahertz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280 million; 20 megahertz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £4 million; and 40 megahertz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band at a cost of £168 million.

Hutchison 3G UK will £280 million for 2×10 megahertz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band.

O2 secured 2×10 megahertz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280 million; and 40 megahertz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band at a cost of £168 million.

Meanwhile, Vodafone committed to pay £176.4 million for 40 megahertz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band.

The regulator explained that the auction will now move to the assignment stage, which includes a single bidding round in which the operators can bid for the frequency positions they prefer for the 5G frequencies they have secured in the principal stage.

After submitting their assignment stage bids in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band, bidders will then have the opportunity to negotiate the frequency positions among themselves, Ofcom said.

Philip Marnick, Group Director, Spectrum at Ofcom, said: “With bidding in the principal stage concluded, we now move to the next stage of the auction where the operators will have an opportunity to negotiate the position of their spectrum holdings in the wider band. These airwaves will help improve coverage for the mobile services people use today, as well as supporting the U.K.’s position as a world leader in 5G.”

In 2019, U.K. telcos had obtained spectrum for the provision of 5G services. Vodafone won 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz band after paying £378 million. EE won 40 megahertz for which it paid £303 million. Three secured 20 megahertz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151.3 million, while Telefónica-owned O2 picked up 40 megahertz for £318m.

These frequencies enabled the operators to launch 5G services in 2019, making the U.K. one of the most developed markets in Europe in terms of 5G deployments. The country’s four mobile operators have already launched 5G technologies in the U.K.’s main cities as well as in several small and medium-sized cities.


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