Unified World Communications UK's 5G spectrum auction has concluded

The initial part of the UK’s 5G spectrum auction has concluded. And the big four operators securing 34 pieces of spectrum across 2 bands. Vodafone, O2 and BT’s EE each spent in more than £300m on the 5G spectrum, with Three spending over £150m.

Vodafone, O2, Three and EE all won significant amounts of spectrum at the auction. The fifth bidder, Airspan Spectrum Holdings, walked away with nothing. They are expected to form additional bids in a future 2.8GHz spectrum auction.

The £1.35 billion raised exceeded the expected income of £1 billion projected by leading analysts in the run-up to the auction.

“This spectrum will be instrumental in further improving 4G mobile services now, while helping the UK to lead the 5G revolution and build a Britain that is fit for the future. We hope that it can now be deployed as soon as possible for the benefit of consumers right across the UK,” said the UK’s digital minister, Margot James.


Vodafone secured the largest volume of the spectrum of any of the UK’s big four, netting 50 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a price a little over £378m. They should be happy with this. It will allow them to invigorate its mobile offerings within the UK.


Telefonica’s O2 additionally secured a sizeable quantity of spectrum in both the 4G and 5G bandwidths. O2 secured all 40 MHz of the obtainable 2.3 GHz spectrum, at a value of £206m and 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a value of £318m.

O2 emerged a huge winner, sweeping up all of the available capacity of 2.3GHz airwaves. This will provide them with much-needed 4G capability. This sale had a higher importance to O2 than any of its rivals.


EE claimed 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a value of £302m. They focussed all of its effort on getting 5G spectrum, and this strategy appears to have set the groundwork for EE to be a serious player in fifth generation mobile services within the years to come.


Three won 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a value of £151m – a not insignificant total, however one that may do very little to catapult the mobile operator to the front of the queue for 5G services.

What now in 5G Spectrum Auction?

Now that the initial part of the auction is complete, Ofcom can proceed to the assignment part of the process. Operators who have won spectrum must work out the frequency bands their new spectrum allocations will operate in.

Following the conclusion of this stage, Ofcom can issue the winning bidders with licenses. This means they can begin utilising their new spectrum allocations. That’s most important for O2, as it can roll-out immediately useable 4G spectrum.

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