01/03/2013

Ofcom announces 4G frequencies awards

Ofcom, the super regulator today announced the awards (and subsequent prices) for the 4G spectrum awards. Everything Everywhere Ltd, Hutchison 3G UK Ltd and Telefónica UK Ltd (O2) did not have to pay anything following the original auction and awarding of their spectrum.

Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (a subsidiary of BT Group plc) paid £15,061,179 to be allocated the spectrum bands 2,520 to 2,535 MHz and 2,640 to 2,655 MHz.

Vodafone Limited has paid £8,060,020 to be allocated the spectrum bands 801 to 811 MHz and 842 to 852 MHz, and an additional £4,039,123 to be allocated the spectrum bands 2,500 to 2,520 MHz and 2,620 to 2,640 MHz.

O2 was awarded 811 to 821 MHz and 852 to 862 MHz in the 4G spectrum award and has an obligation to cover 98% of the UK population by 2017.

The original auction raised £2,341,113,000 for the UK Treasury, this additional bidding has raised an extra £27,160,322 bringing the total raised to £2,368,273,322 for the UK coffers.

The licenses are now free to deploy 4G (LTE) services on these bands.

Last week Ofcom announced the winning bidders for 4G spectrum and amounts bid for it.

Everything Everywhere Ltd2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz and 2 x 35 MHz of 2.6 GHz£588,876,000
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz£225,000,000
Niche Spectrum Ventures2 x 15 MHz of 2.6 GHz and 1 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired)£186,476,000
Telefónica UK Ltd2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz (coverage obligation lot)£550,000,000
Vodafone Ltd2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz, 2 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz and 1 x 25 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired)£790,761,000

CADScan launches affordable 3D scanner

CADScan has launched a project on Kickstarter to produce an affordable 3D scanner, which can scan 3D objects into an electronic format suitable for 3D printing.

The aim is to produce the scanner for £650 ($1,000) which puts it into the realm of companies and serious home users allowing objects sized up to 25cm x 25cm x 25cm (10" x 10" x 10") to be scanned.

With the combination of affordable 3D printers, it will now be possible to duplicate objects for under $2,000 which also brings interesting thoughts on affordable piracy of objects.

CADScan is based in Chester in the UK.

Sky buys O2 Broadband

BSkyB the media giant has agreed to acquire O2/Telefonica's O2 broadband service (this also includes the Be broadband service that O2 originally acquired to launch their broadband services). Sky will initially pay Telefonica £180m followed by another £20m following the successful migration of the customer base.

O2/Be have 560,100 broadband customers which added to Sky's 4,235,000 customers gives them 4,795,100 customers and pushes Sky into 2nd place in the UK broadband market following BT Retail with 6,569,000 and putting VirginMedia into 3rd place with 4,465,000.

The acquisition also covers O2's fixed line telephony unit and will increase Sky's consumer offering.

Though there is overlap in terms of infrastructure, O2's network will be migrated on to Sky's existing network - though it's likely there will be some exchanges that O2 have unbundled that Sky haven't - which means Sky's LLU (local loop unbundled) network will grow slightly as they move into those exchanges.

Sky will maintain O2's LLU offering (i.e. wholesale broadband service offered to other operators), but O2's LLU business will be migrated on to Sky's network. This should be a 'good thing' as O2's network reach will increase as they get access to Sky's unbundled exchanges, however some operators are worried that the quality of the underlying network will decrease and thus the customer experience may deteriorate.

The deal still has to get regulatory approval, but assuming there are no objections it should complete by April.

The added cash (which cant hurt as Telefonica/O2 has just spend a chunk on buying 800MHz spectrum in the recent 4G spectrum auctions) will be used to accelerate the rollout of 4G services.