The ravenous appetite for radio spectrum continues, and with the Ministry of Defence starting the ball rolling on its own spectrum auction, it looks almost like a clash of the Government departments as they may do battle with Ofcom for the mobile operators money.
Alas the reality is a lot more boring, while the spectrum auction by the Ministry of Defence is a new thing, the 500 MHz of spectrum to be released between now and 2020 is various blocks, with some as small as 2 MHz (probably only suitable for low bit-rate smart meter monitoring). The two big blocks are 2310-2400 MHz which will be auctioned in 2013/2014 and 3410-3600 MHz following in 2015/2016.
The other bands likely to appear in the next few years are 870–872 MHz paired with 915–917 MHz, 1427–1452 MHz, 2025–2070 MHz, 4800–4900 MHz and 10-10.125 GHz. As no companies have announced precise plans one can only guess on uses, but there is scope for extra 4G LTE bands, whitespace and other fixed wireless or point to point backhaul solutions, the big question is how much will companies pay for the spectrum. Remember that even if there is spare spectrum available for 4G, it is only useful if device manufacturers include it in their devices, hence the problem with the LTE supporting devices from Apple only working on 1800 MHz band in the UK currently.
The amount that will be paid is very important as these releases are part of the much larger spending review underway since 2010. As such Ofcom and the operators will have been taken this latest announcement into account, and things like the opening of the 700 MHz band in 2018 after more Freeview adjustments is still going to go ahead.