July 11, 2017 / 8:13 AM / a year ago

UK regulator Ofcom places bidding restrictions on BT, Vodafone

July 11 (Reuters) - UK’s Ofcom has capped the maximum spectrum a company could win as it set new rules for the auction of mobile spectrum to safeguard competition, the communications regulator said on Tuesday.

The new auction, which is expected to take place later this year, will limit the amount of spectrum companies such as BT and EE Ltd IPO-EEL.L could win to 85 MHz in the 3.4 GHz band, restricting the companies’ overall share of mobile spectrum.

Vodafone would be able to gain a maximum of 160 MHz of spectrum across the 2.3 GHZ and 3.4 GHz bands under these restrictions.

The regulator, however, has not placed restrictions on any other bidder, based on current spectrum holdings.

Licences to use 190 MHz of spectrum would be auctioned in two frequency bands, increasing airwaves available for mobile devices by almost a third.

Ofcom said 40 MHz of spectrum would be auctioned in the 2.3 GHz band, which is already supported by mobile device makers such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and HTC , and could be used immediately to provide extra capacity leading to faster browsing and download speeds.

The remaining 150 MHz of the spectrum would be auctioned in the 3.4 GHz band, which is currently being used for 4G wireless broadband to fixed devices in countries such as UK, Canada and Spain.

Ofcom has set reserve prices of 10 million pounds per 10 MHz lot of the 2.3GHz band, and 1 million pounds for a 5 MHz block in the 3.4GHz band. These are unchanged, giving a total reserve price of 70 million pounds for the 190 MHz of spectrum. (Reporting by Sanjeeban Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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