UK regulator Ofcom pushed back plans to hold a 5G spectrum auction, moving the initial bidding start date by two months due to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

In a statement, the body said the principal stage of the auction for the 700MHz and 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz frequency bands set for this month, is now scheduled for March.

Ofcom added it will continue to monitor developments of the situation following the outbreak.

A BT spokesperson told Mobile World Live the operator is “disappointed” but understands the move. “The auction and subsequent release of spectrum remains central to the future rollout of mobile networks and 5G. The economy’s recovery from Covid-19 is dependent on resilient digital infrastructure and we urge Ofcom to resist any further requests for delays.”

The regulator previously said the auction will lead to an 18 per cent increase in mobile capacity in the UK and the goal was to boost 5G network rollouts and improve mobile broadband.

Its auction plan faced challenges from some of the country’s operators, as they sought a different approach to awarding the spectrum in the wake of requirements to invest heavily into removing Huawei equipment from their networks.