The 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands – previously used for the likes of emergency services and transport systems – are equivalent to roughly 75% of the spectrum Ofcom auctioned earlier this year to mobile operators so they could provide 4G data networks across the UK.
The MoD first announced it would be freeing up the spectrum in December 2012, but it has taken until now for Ofcom to open up a consultation on what to do with the allocation.
It will be offered on a commercial basis, with the regulator expecting companies wanting to deliver 4G wireless broadband services to be at the front of the queue.
“Over the next decade we will see a revolution in the way people connect to the internet, driven by the ability to wirelessly access the internet at superfast speeds,” said Ed Richards, CEO of Ofcom. “4G is likely to open up a new wave of wireless innovation that will deliver considerable benefits to society and the UK’s digital economy.
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“This development will also place huge demands on the UK’s wireless infrastructure. Releasing MoD spectrum onto the commercial marketplace is an important step in helping to meet this extraordinary demand.”
It is not yet clear how Ofcom will decide on who gets the spectrum, but the regulator said it could organise another auction.
For now, it is asking those interested in buying the allocation to make themselves known with any comments by 27 November 2013 and expects to award the spectrum in the financial year of 2015/2016.