A joint technical consultation between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been published today. It follows an earlier consultation in 2019 on the principle of the reforms. Views are being sought on proposed planning reforms that will allow the speedier deployment of telecoms equipment while keeping safeguards in place. (more…)
Following the announcement of the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz band principal stage winners, Ofcom has confirmed that the auction has moved into a period of negotiation. Bidders have the opportunity to negotiate the frequency positions among themselves in order to facilitate trades to join together the frequencies they have secured with spectrum they already hold in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band.
The first phase of this negotiation period runs until 16 April 2021. If a second phase is required, this is expected to take place between 19 and 23 April 2021.
- EE Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000; 20 MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £4,000,000; and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.
- Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000.
- Vodafone Limited has won 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £176,400,000.
- Telefónica UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000, and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.
After a pause in the process, bidding in the principal stage begins today. The UK’s four main mobile networks – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – will bid for spectrum in two different frequency bands:
- The 700 MHz band: 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band is being released. These airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage – including in the countryside.
- The 3.6-3.8 GHz band: 120 MHz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band is being released. These airwaves are part of the primary band for 5G and capable of boosting mobile data capacity, carrying lots of data-hungry connections.
The Telecoms Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill has successfully passed through parliament and is set to become law.
As a reminder, the Bill was introduced in late 2019 with the aim of allowing fixed broadband providers to gain access to multiple dwelling buildings (blocks of residential flats and apartments) in order to deploy, upgrade or maintain fixed-line broadband connections where a landlord has repeatedly failed to respond. The forthcoming law will place an obligation on landlords, via the Electronic Communications Code, to facilitate the deployment of digital infrastructure and enable providers to use magistrates courts to gain entry to properties.
In parallel, the consultation on further potential changes to the Electronic Communications Code is is underway on whether to make further changes to help improve the process between landowners and providers.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has published its Annual Monitoring Report 2021 setting out the priorities to be addressed over the next year and calls on the government to set out a clear roadmap, including a workable plan, for ensuring the hardest to reach homes and businesses get the benefits of high capacity broadband. (more…)
The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s Second Report 5G market diversification and wider lessons for critical and emerging technologies highlights the dependency of the UK’s 5G rollout on just two vendors, posing risks to network resilience and security.
Drawing on evidence taken throughout the course of the inquiry, the report warns against repeating mistakes as new and important technologies evolve. MPs have called on the government to publish a white paper within 12 months with an action plan. The paper should assess the risks of global technological divergence of standards, identify critical emerging technologies, risks of dependency on high-risk vendors, and set out the government’s proposed response. The report sets out a series of recommendations for the current telecommunications rollout, recently addressed in the government’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy. (more…)
DCMS has published a consultation on changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) which is the legal framework underpinning agreements between landowners and communications operators in the UK. The Code was substantially reformed in 2017 to make it easier and faster for apparatus to be deployed, maintained, shared and upgraded in rural areas, balancing the need for digital infrastructure with the rights of landowners and other site providers. (more…)
Last year Ofcom announced that the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz 5G Auction would begin this month (to improve coverage and speed of 5G mobile broadband networks). There was a pause in the process due to the current COVID-19 lockdown and it has now been confirmed the start of the auction will be in March 2021. Ofcom will continue to monitor the situation in the meantime.
Earlier this month Ofcom announced the four bidders as EE Limited, Hutchison 3G UK Limited, Telefónica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited. The regulations for the auction came into force in November 2020.
Evidence to the inquiry found little confidence that nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 could be delivered, and MPs raised concerns that only 25% of the Government’s £5 billion to support roll-out to the hardest-to-reach premises will be made available during the period. The 4th report by the DCMS Select Committee says it would not be acceptable for Government to fail to meet the less ambitious target through lack of effective planning or inadequate investment. The report also finds the target for majority 5G coverage by 2027 ambitious given the ruling to ban the use of equipment by high-risk vendors.
The UK is undergoing a fundamental re-evaluation of the value that telecoms bring to the UK economy. The pandemic has consolidated the pivotal role that digital connectivity plays in underpinning the economy and wider society. Broadband and mobile connectivity have been the backbone of the accelerated drive to digital adoption, as the paper by Robert Kenny of Communications Chambers sets out. (more…)
Ofcom is consulting on its draft 2021/22 Plan of Work which sets out its proposed strategic priorities and includes the following:
- Investment in strong, secure networks
Supporting ongoing investment in faster broadband and better-quality mobile networks and working with industry to ensure they are safe, secure and resilient.
- Getting everyone connected
Working to ensure people and businesses can access key communications services – including in the hardest to reach locations. It includes monitoring the delivery of the universal broadband service and the Shared Rural Network. (more…)
Ofcom has published its consultation ‘Supporting the UK’s wireless future – Our spectrum management strategy for the 2020s’ setting out its plans to manage the use of the spectrum over the next ten years.
The proposals are grouped into three strategic themes:
- Supporting wireless innovation
- Licensing to fit local and national services
- Promoting spectrum sharing
Government announced its £250m strategy setting out targeted plans to diversify the global telecoms supply market. It focuses on three key areas of activity:
- Supporting incumbent suppliers to ensure their resilience and ability to supply the market in the near term, while supporting their transition into the emerging market structure;
- attracting new suppliers into the UK market to build resilience and competition, prioritising deployments that are in line with government’s longer-term vision; and
- accelerating open-interface solutions and deployment so that the UK is not reliant on any single vendor and begins to realise the long term vision for a more open and innovative market.