The UK's long-delayed 4G spectrum auction has completed today, resulting in the sale of 800MHz and 2600MHz airwaves to the country's largest operators for a total of £2.3 billion.
Here's what it means for each of the major providers --
EE pays £588.9 million for 2 x 5MHz of 800MHz and 2 x 35MHz of 2600MHz. Combined with its existing 1800MHz coverage that makes it the only major carrier with the ability to use all three main 4G bands. It also means EE has the most 4G spectrum available of any carrier. In addition, EE walks away with the largest slice of 2600MHz airwaves, which offer higher speeds over smaller areas.
Three gets 2 x 5MHz of 800MHz for £225m. The UK's smallest operator has already purchased 2 x 15MHz of 1800MHz from EE, and its new 800MHz holdings should help it extend coverage in rural areas and improve indoor 4G reception.
O2 gets 2 x 10MHz of 800MHz for £550m as part of a "coverage obligation lot." That obligation means O2 must provide indoor reception to 98 percent of the overall UK population (as well as 95 percent of the populations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) by the end of 2017.
- Vodafone also walks away with 2 x 10MHz of 800MHz, as well as 2 x 20MHz and 1 x 25MHz of 2600MHz, for which it paid £790.8m. This gives it a substantial amount of fresh spectrum upon which to build its 4G network.
In addition, BT scooped up 2 x 15MHz and 1 x 20MHz of 2600MHz through its Niche Spectrum Ventures subsidiary, however BT isn't looking to launch its own mobile network.
Winners now have until Thursday to pay for their newly-won airwaves, and according to Ofcom the launch of commercial 4G services on this spectrum remains on target for late spring or early summer.
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