Ofcom plans key radio spectrum release

Ofcom plans key radio spectrum release

Government agencies could release a large amount of their spectrum holdings

UK comms regulator Ofcom has released plans for government agencies and public organisations to share, trade or release radio spectrum they currently use solely, a development which could boost the take up of more efficient mobile wireless services.

Ofcom pointed to an independent study carried out by Analysys and Mason which concluded that “an additional 2.5 GHz of spectrum could be required below 15 GHz for new and existing technologies by 2025". The report also found that: “Spectrum shortages are likely to be a constraint which could prevent the future optimal deployment and growth of a wide variety of services."

Ofcom pointed out that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) holds about a third of "the most sought-after public sector spectrum below 15GHz”, and plans to consult by May 2008 on its plans to release "a significant proportion of its spectrum holdings”.

The most useful spectrum currently held by the MoD will have a detailed audit planned to be completed by the end of 2008. These include the following under 4GHz : 137–154 MHz, 230–400 MHz, 400.15–406.1 MHz, 430-450 MHz, 590 – 598 MHz, 870-960 MHz, 960-1215 MHz, 1215-1350 MHz, 1375-1400 MHz, 1427-1452 MHz, 1559-1626.5 MHz, and 2310-2450 MHz.

Ofcom said that, “Commercial respondents tended to agree with our initial assessment that the bands 406.1 - 430 MHz, 2.7 - 3.4 GHz and 3.4 - 3.6 GHz were likely to prove most attractive for alternative uses.” Mobile wireless broadband services like WiMax, amongst others are expected to benefit from this spectrum release.

But there could be problems with spectrum release if multiple government departments say they want to manage particular radio spectrum bands, Ofcom said, adding that more discussions between the MoD and other bodies like the Civil Aviation Authority and Maritime Coastguard Authority are needed before tradable radio spectrum becomes available.