Ofcom gives green light for mobile spectrum trading

Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, has approved plans for mobile phone operators to trade rights to the radio spectrum they hold. It is expected that the new regulations will help to increase network capacity and give operators more flexibility to meet the growing demand for mobile date. James Walsh, senior associate at international law firm Eversheds, comments:

“Ofcom’s new regulations to allow operators to trade their mobile spectrum licences have been long awaited. Spectrum licences are extremely valuable – the 3G spectrum auctions produced over £22 billion in revenue for the UK government last decade. Allowing mobile operators to trade the mobile spectrum they have purchased is a key step in allowing them to treat spectrum as a fully realisable asset.

“The move is particularly interesting with 4G spectrum auctions planned for next year. Although the 4G round is only likely to raise a fraction of the revenue obtained from the 3G auctions, partly because of the build obligations that Ofcom proposes to include in the relevant 4G spectrum licences, Ofcom’s current intention being to allow the new 4G spectrum licences to be traded as well. This will potentially make the licences more valuable to potential bidders than they would otherwise be.”

Shahar Peleg, Director of Product Management, Siklu Wireless Communications said, “Ofcom has given mobile operators the go-ahead to trade their access (air-interface) spectrum assets with an aim to allow true mobile broadband user experience. However, in-order to provide this mobile broadband experience to the users, the capacity bottleneck in the mobile backhaul network will also need to be solved.

The E-band spectrum has clear technological and economical advantages and is expected to play a significant role in easing these backhaul constraints. Only a combined solution in the access and backhaul networks will allow mobile users to fully experience mobile broadband services, such as web surfing, emailing, video calls, media streaming and other data applications at their finger tips.”