Ofcom dropped plans to include rural coverage requirements in forthcoming auctions of 5G-suitable spectrum, following a deal between operators to tackle 4G not-spots.

In a statement, the regulator explained it had explored the possibility of discounting the cost of licences in the 700MHz, and 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz bands in return for rural coverage commitments, but had been persuaded to ditch the proposals after operators last week agreed to work together to plug current service gaps.

The regulator plans to conduct the auctions in early 2020, with 80MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band, and 120MHz in the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz bands on the block.

Ofcom noted the former offered good coverage indoors and out, and would also “boost the capacity of today’s mobile networks, offering customers a more reliable service”. The latter bands “are part of the primary band for 5G and are capable of carrying lost of data-hungry connections in concentrated areas”.

In addition to boosting 5G rollout, it expects the sales to meet growing demand for mobile and broadband access in the country.

A proposed 37 per cent cap on the amount of spectrum any on operator can hold remains

Philip Marnick, Ofcom spectrum group director said: “We’re pressing ahead with plans to release vital airwaves to improve mobile services for customers. Together with mobile companies’ commitments to improve coverage, this will help more areas get better services and help the UK maintain its place as a leader in 5G.”