back to article Going, going, gone... until March: UK comms regulator delays 5G spectrum auction over pandemic logistics

The UK's telecoms regulator has said it will delay the upcoming auction of the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz radio bands as result of difficulties caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Ofcom had mooted running the auction in November last year, before settling on this month. It has since opted to push the opening to March 2021 …

  1. Steve K Silver badge


    Because when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, they won't need the 5G frequencies to distribute it any more, so they can just sell it off.

    Brilliant thinking!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I don't really see why i can't go ahead as surely the 'auction' would not be everyone sat in a room with an auctioneer with a hammer like something from Flog it. I am guessing the auction bidding is done electronically so what advantage is there in pushing it back another couple of months?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      I'd have thought that bids are likely to be higher if the bidding companies have some certainty of future revenues from other services. Bit like not buying a new car when you're not sure you'll have a job in 6 months.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not as good as it seems.....

    "that's a minimum of £1.084bn assuming all the spectrum sells"

    From which one must subtract, the roughly £400 - 500Mn that OFCOM have forked out to clear the 700Mhz of TV broadcasts and other users.....

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Not as good as it seems.....

      I'd prefer the government to give it away in return for a slice of future revenue and guaranteed coverage for the whole country.

  4. stevebp

    5G. Is. Not. Relevant. Nor. Important. To. The. UK. Economy.

    So please stop banging on about it

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      What is this, HYS? The Register is an IT news site, UK gov delaying a £1bn+ spectrum auction is IT news. They don't make the news, they report it.

    2. flynndean

      I'm not sure how smart it is to poo poo technological progress on a technology site. Particularly where it's something as fundamental as telecommunications infrastructure. I think I understand your angle (iteration vs. revolution) but I would heartily counter that.

      I can think of dozens of theoretical applications of 5G that would have a revolutionary outcomes and that would in themselves create incredible possibilities (particularly when you factor in IoT, Big Data and AI). I'm by no means a specialist in the field, but anyone with a degree of imagination understands that any singular, transformative exploitation of this sort of tech could absolutely result in new opportunities, economies forming - not to mention the cumulative efficiencies through improvements to existing applications of telecoms networks.

      Netflix or YouTube wouldn't exist without iterative improvements to bandwidth and to video codecs. Smartphones wouldn't exist in their current form if we'd stopped at resistive touchscreens because they were "good enough".

      As a minimum - 5G is essential to maintain competitive advantage vs. other nations. Economies form around infrastructure and to not develop infrastructure is economic suicide.

  5. Simon Rockman

    It's all about borrowing money

    To buy the rights to use the spectrum the operators will go to financial institutions. While we are in the midst of a pandemic borrowing money is hard.

    Waiting until the markets recover is sensible if Ofcom wants to realise the best return.

    Unfortunately, this means delays to the coverage it promises. Ofcom first identified 700Mhz as a priority in 2014

    Ofcom has long said that the auction would happen "by 2022", but there have been many false dawns on this one.

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