The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will auction off public services spectrum next year to help the government free up the airwaves for commercial purposes.
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The frequencies, previously used for the likes of emergency services and transport systems, will be made available in 2013, giving another option for mobile operators to build out 4G networks in the UK or for ISPs to increase capacity of their Wi-Fi services.
In the Spending Review 2010, the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, pledged that the government would free up at least 500MHz of publicly-owned spectrum for new mobile services, so the 200MHz from the MoD will go a long way towards that target.
The bands on offer will be between 2.3 and 2.4GHz, and between 3.4 and 3.6GHz, but will both be sold during the same auction. The MoD said preparations for the auction would begin at the end of 2013 and expected the process to be completed by summer 2014.
Philip Dunne, minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said: “We welcome this opportunity to free up much-needed spectrum. We hope that the sale will help drive the roll-out of new generation networks and universal access to broadband, both of which are vital to the UK’s prosperity.”
This latest spectrum auction comes as operators eagerly anticipate Ofcom’s auction for frequencies freed up by the digital television switchover.
In his autumn statement to the Treasury, Osborne said he expected the first auction – due to begin in the next few weeks – to bring in £3.5bn for the government coffers, which he included in his figures for the interim budget speech.
However, the MoD told Computer Weekly it would not be putting an estimated figure on to its own spectrum sale as with an auction process, as such numbers would be hard to predict.