Connected

O2 and Vodafone agree to trade bands following spectrum auction

Agreement paves the way for faster 5G rollout which will spearhead Britain’s digital leadership

O2 and Vodafone have agreed a deal to trade bands to create more efficient blocks of 5G spectrum, in a move that will enable improved coverage for customers – both indoor and outdoor – across urban, suburban and rural areas. Large contiguous blocks support faster speeds, lower latency and greener 5G services.

The move will, subject to approval from Ofcom, create a contiguous block of 80Mhz for O2, and ensure good proximity of Vodafone’s blocks totalling 90MHz of spectrum.

Mark Evans, CEO of O2, said, 

“This year O2 is investing more than ever in its network to improve coverage and experience. Securing contiguous blocks of spectrum is crucial to harnessing the true power of 5G – we will have the strongest indoor and outdoor connectivity and an ultra-reliable frequency.

“O2 is a champion for coverage and reliability, and remains committed to responsibly and securely improving the network experience for all our customers across the UK. This deal with Vodafone is further evidence of our commitment to customers and we’re hugely excited about the possibilities of our 5G network.”

Ofcom confirmed Tuesday that the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz frequency bands had been awarded by auction, leaving winners of spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band the opportunity to negotiate their spectrum positions among themselves.

This stage was an important step towards helping companies bring their spectrum holdings in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band closer together by giving them the opportunity to discuss post-auction trades to consolidate spectrum won in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band and airwaves they already held in the 3.4-3.6 GHz band.

Ahmed Essam, CEO of Vodafone UK commented, 

“Over the last year Vodafone has kept the UK connected. We have invested in our network to deliver brilliant coverage for both calls and data, where and when our customers need it. And we have connected those most in need, from NHS and care workers to children needing to get online to continue their learning at home, and job seekers who have been left without work due to the pandemic.

“The result of this auction and our agreement with O2 will help us continue our mission of connecting our customers for a better future. It means we have the best possible spectrum to continue giving our customers a fast and reliable 5G service.

It will also enable us to open up amazing new possibilities for our enterprise customers, putting Britain at the forefront of innovation in vital areas like assisted surgery, remote training, and factory automation.”

Following completion of the assignment stage, Ofcom granted licences to the four bidders for the following frequencies across the two bands:

  • EE Limited – 723-733 MHz and 778-788 MHz; 738-758 MHz; and 3680-3720 MHz.
  • Hutchison 3G UK Limited – 713-723 MHz and 768-778 MHz.
  • Telefónica UK Limited – 703-713 MHz and 758-768 MHz; and 3760-3800 MHz.
  • Vodafone Limited – 3720-3760 MHz.

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