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Mobile Operators Pay £1.4B For 5G Spectrum – but UK 4G Coverage Lagging Albania

UK 4G speed behind Albania and Armenia, but with 5G auction results announced, a glimmer of hope?

By CBR Staff Writer

The UK’s 4G connectivity speed lags that of Albania, Armenia and Austria – and that’s just plumbing the shallow end of the alphabet – according to new research out today.

Wireless coverage mapping outfit OpenSignal took 890 million measurements from 61,121 devices over a three-month period ended 28th February to get the results.

A national average speed of 23.1 Mbps left the UK ranked 39th globally. Singapore, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and Hungary took the top five spots for 4G speed.

“Relatively strong 3G networks* mean there was less rush to rollout 4G, whilst strong competition and falling average revenue per user (ARPU) have muted investment,”Open Signal’s analysts said (pdf) in the report.

Figures come as OFCOM Publishes Auction Results

The survey comes as Ofcom today announced the outcome of the principal stage of its auction to release airwaves for 4G mobile and future 5G services.

The regulator has been running a spectrum auction in two frequency bands: 2.3 GHz, used by current mobile phones and 3.4 GHz, which is one of the spectrum bands earmarked for 5G, the next generation of mobile technology.

Ofcom listed the following auction winners, who paid £1.35 billion for spectrum.

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– EE Limited has won 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £302,592,000

– Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 20 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151,296,000.

– Telefónica UK Limited has won all 40 MHz of 2.3 GHz spectrum available, at a cost of £205,896,000; and 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £317,720,000.

– Vodafone Limited has won 50 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £378,240,000.

The £1,355,744,000 raised will be paid to HM Treasury.

Companies who  won spectrum in the principal stage now bid in the “assignment stage” next week, to determine where in the frequency bands their new spectrum will be located. Ofcom will issue winning bidders with licences – “hopefully” (as an Ofcom spokesman put it to Computer Business Review) within this April.

*Leicestershire Police may disagree.

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