Feeds

EE eyes up £400m payday at spectrum auction

Everything Everywhere starts ball rolling through gritted teeth

Boost IT visibility and business value

Everything Everywhere has started consulting on how best to auction off the 30MHz of bandwidth it's required to give up, with a view to turning it into £400m in cash some time next month.

That's according to the Financial Times, who's been talking to the ever-helpful "people familiar with the plan" and heard that the Royal Bank of Scotland is being lined up to handle the auction. That auction will see radio spectrum which was handed out by the UK government, to UK companies, being sold by the now-foreign owners for a tasty £400m or so.

That's an estimated price; no one knows how much the spectrum is worth. Any buyer will be taking a significant punt given the uncertainty around the UK spectrum market which is about to be seriously disrupted by the upcoming mega auction.

When T-Mobile and Orange merged the EU said they would have to sell off 30MHz of their holdings at 1800MHz, which is what's now to be auctioned off. When the mega auction comes, Ofcom will almost certainly cap the total holdings of any one operator, so EE will want to get shot of that 30MHz ahead of that auction.

Equally: no one is going to buy EE's spectrum until the mega auction rules are known, and we're still awaiting the next round of proposals from Ofcom on that score. Those rules will include caps on spectrum ownership, so despite EE's 30MHz being suitable for 2G, 3G or even 4G telephony, it's very hard to put a price on it.

In the UK we launched 2G at 900MHz and 1800MHz, with 3G at 2.1GHz. Relaxed licences now let operators run 3G (or even 4G) at 900 and 1800MHz, and O2 has started filling its 900MHz band with 3G around London, but 3G kit usable at 1800MHz is still relatively rare.

Get into 4G and things gets worse: right now there are more than 40 different bands which are mapped for LTE (the 4G technology of preference) around the world, with only 2.6GHz and 800MHz having any degree of international harmonisation. LTE will happily run at 1800MHz, but what proportion of handsets will end up supporting that band we don't know.

Everything Everywhere has to get shot of the spectrum, but is selling less-than-prime frequencies a scant few months before some of the most valuable spectrum on the dial comes up for public auction. EE will be hoping to drum up some interest, and get a competitive auction going, but seems unlikely to get what the spectrum is worth, assuming one can ever work out what that would be. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.