5G Bandwidth Auction in UK

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5G will be delivered (in UK) using a mix of 3 spectrum bands :

  1. 700Mhz - to provide the capacity over large areas of the UK
  2. 3.4GHz - to provide bandwidth for the large demand urban areas. This frequency does not pass through walls as well as lower frequencies but does have much greater capacity
  3. 24GHz to provide ultra high capacity in small cells.

The first stage of the OfCom auction was for bandwidth at 2.3MHz (4G) and 3.4MHz bands. This was completed on 5th April 2018

 2.3GHz3.4-3.6GHzPaid
O240MHz40MHz205,896,000 +
317,720,000
Vodafone 50MHz378,240,000
EE 40MHz302,592,000
Three 20MHz151,296,000
  1. O2 purchased 40MHz at 2.3GHz arguably because it did not hold any frequency around this range in the spectrum. The others hold spectrum at 2.6MHz to use on their 4G network. O2 are able to use this on their 4G network now.
  2. Vodafone bought 40MHz of the higher frequency
  3. EE bought slightly less of the higher range spectrum
  4. Three bought the least but they owned a lot of frequency at the higher level following their purchase of UKBroadband. Although OfCom has not yet allowed them to use their frequency for 5G

A second auction will be held in Spring 2020. This will be for frequency in the 700MHz range with it's use similar to the 800MHz in 3G or 4G. This has potential cover larger areas and will be used in rural area. The auction comes with some obligations namely the requirement to cover more households, more of the area of the UK and install more masts. Details of the auction, and the obligations are not clear (March 2020).

    (Spring 2020)
  • EE have released their 5G network in 41 towns and cities those users who have upgraded to a 5G phone.
  • Vodafone released their 5G offerring at the end of July 2019 and now cover 41 towns and cities.
  • O2 started their 5G offerring in October 2019 with 21 towns and cities having 5G available.
  • Three were the last to offer a 5G service but claim this to be an ultra-fast 5G network. It covers 38 towns and cities in the UK.
All of these initial 5G networks are running on the 3.4GHz frequency in urban areas. Later all the MNOs will expand the number of urban locations where 5G is available. the release of the 700MHz frequency to cover any rural areas. Also to get some of the significant uRLLC and mMTC application we will have to wait until some 24GHz frequency is released.

Is 5G available? Some random postcodes for interest.

EEVodafoneO2THREE
NE25weaknonenonenone
S10nonenonenonenone
WC1Hgoodnonenonenone