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Britain’s telecom giants begin bidding on 5G spectrum

Britain’s leading telecoms firms have begun bidding for their share of the 5G spectrum as they develop next-generation mobile networks.

What is 5G and why do we need it?

The country’s main mobile network operators – EE, O2, Vodafone and Three – have launched bids for 5G spectrum.

However, Airspan Spectrum is also thought to be trying to get a slice of the UK’s 5G technology infrastructure. This bidding war will take place over the next few weeks.

Communications regulator Ofcom explained that five companies are taking part in the auction and that they are bidding for two frequency bands, which will lay the foundations of future 5G services.

There is a 2.3GHz band up for grabs, which is expected to be released soon. By tapping into it, companies can improve mobile connectivity capacity.

A 3.4GHz option is also available. With it, telecom firms are able to develop fifth-generation mobile services and applications.

It is widely believed that 5G offers better browsing speeds and reduced latency. The general consensus is that, in the coming years, existing 4G services will be unable to support the growing Internet of Things ecosystem.

Philip Marnick, spectrum group director at Ofcom, explained that it is the job of the regulatory body to ensure that the auction runs smoothly and that firms make fair bids.

He said: “Our job is to release these airwaves quickly and efficiently, and we want to see them in use as soon as possible. We are glad the auction is now underway.

“This spectrum will help improve people’s experience of using mobile broadband today, and also help companies prepare for future 5G services.”

In total, Ofcom is looking to auction 190MHz of spectrum – although there are caps in place to ensure that every bidder gets a fair share.

The auction was delayed when EE and Three filed legal complaints over these caps. Last month, Marnick explained: “We’re pressing ahead with the auction to make these airwaves available as quickly as possible.

“This will benefit today’s mobile users by providing more capacity for mobile broadband use. It will also pave the way for 5G, allowing operators to launch the next generation of mobile technology.”

Recently, the government awarded £25 million to six 5G project winners. They will explore 5G use in rural communities and industrial productivity, using applications including autonomous vehicles, drones and AI.

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