British carriers might have spent over 20 billion pounds on 3G wireless auctions several years ago, but they will soon get a chance to spend even more for “the UK’s largest single release of radio spectrum”, says British regulator Ofcom. This morning Ofcom outlined a plan for wireless auctions, which will be technology agnostic, but could include spectrum for WiMAX, mobile TV, mobile broadcast and even 3G. Ofcom is asking for a consultation period until March 2007.
Ofcom says the three bands that will be available are: 2010-2025 MHz, 2290-2300 MHz and 2500-2690 MHz, and a total of 215 MHz will be on the market. There will be two initial auctions which will be part of a bigger plan to sell off up to 400 MHz over the following years. Reports say that the government won’t likely earn anywhere near what they did in the high-roller 3G auction — TeleGeography estimates that the new auctions will fetch a mere tenth of the total raised in the original 3G auctions conducted in 2000.
The U.K. carriers are still trying to monetize their expenses on the 3G spectrum, so it’s going to be painful for them to try to buy even more spectrum for advanced services. There is a good chance that it will open up the market for new entrants. British Telecom, which decided to get out of the mobile market could make a comeback, and so could Carphone Warehouse. Like in the latest U.S. wireless auction, maybe this could lead to media companies and other non-traditional wireless companies to try to grab some valuable spectrum.