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Ofcom lets mobile network operators trade frequencies ahead of 4G auction

Communications regulator Ofcom is to allow mobile network operators to trade their existing rights to frequencies for others they would like to use.

Communications regulator Ofcom is to allow mobile network operators to trade their existing rights to frequencies for others they would like to use.

Ofcom's view is that the trade would lead to more efficient use of spectrum and a more competitive market.

Ofcom published a consultation setting out its proposals about trading frequencies in the 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 2100MHz frequency bands.

Everything Everywhere owns 2x80MHz of spectrum, mainly in the 1.8GHz band, following the merger of T-Mobile and Orange's UK operations. The next biggest holding is Vodafone's 2x37.8MHz of spectrum.

The regulator is expected to announce draft proposals on an auction of so-called 4G frequencies in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands later this month.

The regulator said it believed spectrum trading would create the maximum flexibility for the spectrum to be used efficiently and benefit citizens and consumers.

The proposals allow Ofcom to consider whether competition is likely to be distorted by a trade, and to make a trade conditional.

"This makes it possible for us to do a prior impact check on competition where that seems appropriate. We believe that this will lead to a better outcome for citizens and consumers than relying solely on competition law," Ofcom said in a statement.

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