Spectrum value in the UK rises by a quarter

06 November 2012 | Kavit Majithia


Spectrum value for airwaves used by mobile phone operators and broadcasters in the UK has risen by a quarter in five years, according to a report by Analysys Mason.

This will come as welcome news for the UK government as it hopes to generate strong returns from the country’s 4G spectrum auction due next year.

In 2011, the economic value of spectrum use in the UK stood at £52 billion, increasing by 25% since 2006 according to the consultancy.

The government plans to release 500MHz of spectrum, which is already in use in the public sector, to be used for commercial use by 2020, and is expected to deliver further returns for the state and wider economy.

European authorities have recently approved plans to re-farm 3G spectrum for 4G mobile broadband use, and the increasing demand for spectrum has meant governments are freeing up airwaves to add economic value.

UK operators, as a result of the European ruling, will be able to use more airwaves for 4G by summer 2014, subject to approval from Ofcom.

Analysys Mason’s study suggests mobile services account for nearly 60% of total spectrum value, while broadcasting accounts for 20%.

As part of the increasing proliferation of smartphones, mobile data traffic in the UK has grown by 25%, with similar rates expected over the next five years.

An Analysys Mason source added: “As the highest value is likely to be obtained in the public mobile sector, releasing spectrum for this purpose will create the most value.”

What is spectrum? Read our 'Need to Know' from our October issue to find out.