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UK: Ofcom announces consultation on spectrum management

02 October 2013
Ofcom has today published a consultation on its spectrum management strategy, setting out its approach to and priorities for spectrum management over the next ten years.

Its first strategic review of spectrum management was in September 2005 and since then, it has liberalised the mobile licence regime, completed the digital switchover and auction of spectrum for 4G/LTE.

The purpose of this consultation is to:

  • outline its approach to spectrum management, taking into account its experience over the past ten years; and
  • explain its initial views on the future developments in spectrum use that could indicate the need for priority action over the next ten years.

In the consultation document, Ofcom highlights a number of important trends that could have a significant impact on spectrum use that are emerging, including mobile broadband growth, the emergence of new uses such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and increasingly sophisticated techniques for sharing spectrum.  It also foresees growing competing demands for certain spectrum in particular in relation to public mobile networks, fuelled by broadband enabled applications; capacity requirements for TV broadcast transmissions with the increased move to high definition video capture as well as sector specific demands including in relation to emergency services, business radio and utilities.

Ofcom also identifies other key challenges as being:

  • Strong expansion in low power, localised uses
  • Fewer opportunities for low frequency spectrum re-purposing
  • Transition to more intensive use of higher frequencies
  • Growing relevance of spectrum sharing techniques
  • Growing intensity of spectrum use and importance of radio equipment performance

Ofcom has identified a number of priority areas and the consultation invites comment on whether or not its assessment is correct and the areas of focus appropriate.  In particular it has identified mobile and wireless demand as a priority area along with spectrum access for programme making and special events; spectrum requirements for emergency services communications in particular in the context of international developments.

The consultation closes on 11 December 2013

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