The process to sell off former TV frequencies to operators of 5G networks has been delayed for the best part of a year, due to the pandemic.
Ofcom has confirmed it is planning to start an auction of the former 700 MHz Freeview frequency band in March 2021. BT/EE, Telefonica O2, Hutchison 3G (Three) and Vodafone will then battle to take control of different chunks of the frequency band, alongside additional spectrum in the 3.6-3.8 GHz frequency band.
The frequencies will be reused to boost 5G coverage in the UK, with the former TV frequencies seen as ideal to boost coverage, particularly in rural areas.
Most Freeview TV services were removed from the old frequencies by last August, with only the temporary HD multiplex ‘COM7’ still on-air in the future 5G frequency band. COM7, which currently carries channels including BBC Four HD, FreeSports and Quest HD is due to close and vacate the frequency.