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Ofcom Moots Indefinite Extension to UK Broadband Ltd’s 4G Licence

Friday, Jun 13th, 2014 (1:16 pm) - Score 1,261

The communications regulator has given preliminary approval to a proposal by the sibling of Hong Kong telecoms giant PCCW (HKT) and parent to London-based wireless ISP Relish, UK Broadband Limited, which is seeking an indefinite extension to its existing licence for radio spectrum within the 3.4GHz band.

The UK Broadband holdings, which enable it to run a number of 4G (LTE) based fixed wireless broadband networks across the United Kingdom, currently consist of two 20MHz blocks (3480 – 3500MHz and 3580 – 3600MHz) and these reside within a wider 190MHz band of spectrum (also part of the 3.4-3.6GHz range) that Ofcom expect to auction off to other operators via an auction in 2015/16.

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But UKB’s existing licence for this spectrum is due to expiry during July 2018 and, given the recent launch of Relish and their long-held plans for further expansion, Ofcom has decided that extending the operator’s licence is probably the best course of action (note: this doesn’t impact their plans to auction off the different parts of the same band).

Ofcom Statement

In its submission in support of a licence extension, UK Broadband says it intends to deploy a 3.4GHz network focussing initially on fixed wireless broadband and on mobile broadband services in major urban areas. The services will reach an estimated 45% of the UK’s population. Before committing to the necessary investment the company says it requires long-term certainty over the 40MHz of spectrum it holds in the 3.4GHz band.

Ofcom believes granting the request would promote competition and encourage investment and innovation, in line with our statutory duties to further the interests of citizens and consumers.

It’s interesting to note that Ofcom had originally proposed that UKB consolidate its spectrum into a single contiguous 40MHz block between 3560 – 3600MHz, although this idea has been delayed (pending future review) after it was suggested that such a change amounted to a new award of spectrum and would thus become subject to a competitive process.

The regulators consultation is due to close on 25th July 2014 and in all likelihood UKB will get the extension, albeit subject to the payment of a new licence fee.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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