HomeInsightsOfcom publishes statement on aligning spectrum licence terms in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band


In May 2022, Ofcom consulted on proposals to align the terms of licences in the 3.4-3.6 GHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands to reduce potential barriers to spectrum trading between mobile network operators.

Spectrum in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band is being used by the four UK mobile operators to deliver 5G services. When this spectrum was awarded to operators through auctions in 2018 and 2021, some of it was already licensed to UK Broadband Ltd. Therefore, UK Broadband’s spectrum licences in this band were subject to different terms than the other licences in the same band. Ofcom considered that aligning licence terms and removing the disparity between UK Broadband’s licences and the auctioned licences could lead to more efficient use of spectrum.

The consultation closed in July 2022. Ofcom has now published a statement saying that, following the consultation, it has decided to go ahead with its proposals and align licences in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band.

Accordingly, to help reduce barriers to potential trading, Ofcom has decided to:

  • change the notice periods for revocation in UK Broadband’s licences in the 3.4-3.6 GHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands and include new start dates for payment of annual licence fees in those licences so that the terms of those licences align with those in the licences Ofcom auctioned in the same respective bands; and
  • make fee regulations which will require UK Broadband to pay lump-sum amounts for its 3.4 GHz and 3.6 GHz licences based on the auction prices in the recent 3.4 GHz auction and 3.6 GHz auction respectively.

This proposal does not affect UK Broadband’s 3.9 GHz spectrum. To read Ofcom’s full statement, click here.