Qualcomm buys UK mobile-TV spectrum

Seventeen lots of spectrum in the mobile TV-friendly L-band have been won in an Ofcom auction by Qualcomm, at a cost of £8.3m

Qualcomm has won 40MHz of UK spectrum suitable for mobile TV or broadband, but there is no indication yet as to what the company intends to do with it.

The UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, announced last December that it would auction off the spectrum in 16 smaller lots, as well as a single large one. That auction took place earlier this month, with Qualcomm winning the entire package at a price of £8.3m.

The spectrum lies in what is known as the "L-band", ranging between 1452-1492MHz, and is used through much of the world for Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio transmissions — although the UK uses different frequencies for that.

The L-band is tipped as being useful for mobile TV broadcasting or some form of wireless broadband, but Qualcomm remains tight-lipped on its intended use of the spectrum. However, given that Qualcomm is the company behind the MediaFLO mobile-TV standard, it seems likely that this will be the application for the spectrum, despite the European Commission's keenness to see rival standard DVB-H used across Europe. The Ofcom auction was carried out on a technology-neutral basis.

A spokesperson for Ofcom also told ZDNet.co.uk on Friday that there is "no end date" to Qualcomm's licence, so it could theoretically hang onto the spectrum forever. However, the licence is tradable and, according to Ofcom's spokesperson, the regulator does "of course, have the powers of revocation if necessary".


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