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Morgan Stanley gets spectrum grab bag gig

Appointed to flog digital dividend

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Ofcom, the UK regulator, has appointed the investment bank Morgan Stanley to promote international interest in the digital dividend, ahead of the auction planned for 18 months' time.

The bank won the contract on the grounds of their contacts at telecoms companies in the US and Asia, who might be encouraged to snap up a chunk of UK airspace. The value of the contract isn't being disclosed, but with the auction expected to raise more then £4bn, the promotional activities will surely be a nice little earner for Morgan Stanley.

Not that this is about money, of course. Ofcom's spectrum-distribution methodology is based on the concept that he who is prepared to pay most shall make most efficient use of the spectrum - spectrum that's given away won't be valued by those who receive it.

The digital dividend comprises 144MHz of spectrum, released by the switching off of analogue TV, and will be popular for broadcast services as it has decent range and building penetration - though what services get launched remains to be seen.

A similar auction in the US resolutely failed to change the wireless industry, as incumbent players snapped up most of the good spectrum to fill in gaps in their coverage. The UK licences will be national, so the same result is unlikely, though existing players will still be the probable customers. ®

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