Arqiva to hand back almost UK-wide 28GHz spectrum

Arqiva to hand back almost UK-wide 28GHz spectrum

Goonhilly dishes.jpg

Arqiva, the UK wireless infrastructure company 48% owned by Digital 9, wants to hand back most of its 28GHz spectrum licence.

And Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, says it is “minded to agree” with Arqiva’s request.

Arqiva has requested that the geographical scope of its licence be amended from UK-wide to three locations, essentially around its three satellite stations, in Cornwall, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire.

The Cornwall spectrum that it wants to retain covers a 3km radius around the Goonhilly ground station (pictured).

But, most surprisingly, Arqiva also wants the licence to terminate entirely on 31 July 2026.

Curtailing the licence, both geographically and by ending it in three years, would save Arqiva money. Ofcom says it and Arqiva have not yet agreed the fees, “which are still under consultation and will be determined in due course”. But it adds, “for consistency with those proposals, we would calculate fees on the same basis as for other location-based licences in the 28GHz band”.

If Arqiva does hand back its nationwide licence, with the exception of those 2km and 3km circles round the earth stations – all of which are rural – “the near-national returned spectrum will become available for reauthorisation”, says Ofcom.

The regulator wants views by email between now at 17:00 on 15 March, and says it will publish its decision two weeks later.

The near-UK-wide spectrum that is likely to become available after Arqiva vacates it is 27.8285-28.0525GHz paired with 28.8365-29.0605GHz.

Digital 9 bought a 48% stake in Arqiva in June 2022. It paid the equivalent of US$454 million to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Arqiva’s operations are satellite TV distribution services and the 219m high Crystal Palace transmission mast in south London, which delivers digital high-definition TV to around 11 million people. It sold its interests in mobile towers to Cellnex in 2020 for £2 billion.

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