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Ofcom plots spectrum auction

Ofcom has today outlined proposals for auctioning off the largest ever release of radio spectrum in the UK.

The spectrum set for sale is likely to be used for a range of advanced wireless and mobile broadband services such as WiMax and mobile telly.

A total of 215MHz will be up for grabs within three spectrum bands - ranging from 2,010MHz to 2,690MHz.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said in a statement: "Releasing more spectrum to the market will create new opportunities for innovation in wireless technologies, promoting competition and driving convergence."

Ofcom is releasing the spectrum on a "technology and service neutral" basis, meaning companies that purchase the spectrum can decide the best way to make use of it. There will be minimal technical specifications to stop interference between services.

Two separate auctions are being proposed, with two bands packaged into a number of lots for one, and the 2,290MHz to 2,300MHz band being packaged as a single lot in the other. The auctions will take place online.

Industry insiders do not expect the sale to hit the £22.5bn total seen with the auction of spectrum for 3G services in 2000.

Ofcom is aiming to release around 400MHz of radio spectrum over the next few years. The switch to digital television has released spectrum (digital dividend), for which the regulator will soon publish plans.

Ofcom is consulting about these proposals until 9 March 2007. The sale of the spectrum is expected to be completed by the end of 2007.

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