TV frequency sale pushed back to the end of the year



The auction that will see another batch of Freeview frequencies sold to 5G mobile network operators is pushed back.

Ofcom estimates the auction will now not take place until November 2020, providing there are no legal challenges, giving television services still operating in the soon to be cleared frequency band a lengthy reprieve.

In an update issued by the UK telecoms regulator, it has confirmed it is considering how its processes for running spectrum auctions securely and safely could be adapted to the circumstances of the pandemic. It wants to ensure the appropriate personal safety of those involved and the integrity of the process – in particular, its security and resilience.

As a result, Ofcom says it doesn't think it would be appropriate to commence the auction itself until it is reasonably confident it can be completed without interruption.

In addition to determining which networks will gain access to the 700MHz frequency band, the auction will also give telecoms companies a chance to acquire spectrum for 5G in the 3.6-3.8 MHz band.

Freeview clearance retunes for this year have been cancelled, leaving a number of television services in North West England on the affected frequencies, until full in-home support can resume for those who can't retune or need a new aerial. Temporary Freeview multiplexes COM7 and COM8 can continue broadcasting without any risk that telecoms operator with a licence to use the 700MHz can serve notice on Arqiva's use of the frequencies.