Public and private sector representatives yesterday launched the ‘Bandsharing Forum’, a not-for-profit, private sector funded organisation that will facilitate the sharing of public sector controlled radio spectrum.
Qinetiq is one of a number of organisations that has helped form the Bandsharing Forum and will contribute its expertise to address the challenge of an increasingly crowded radio spectrum. Other stakeholders include the government, regulators and the public sector.
Over the last two decades new mobile and wireless technologies have increased demand for radio spectrum worldwide. Despite that demand just three UK public bodies, the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) currently control access to more than 40% of the most useful radio spectrum with varying levels of utilisation.
In 2005 an HM Treasury sponsored report (the Cave Audit) called for the extension of market forces to public sector spectrum and outlined the potential for new technologies to share significant blocks of capacity. The government’s positive response to the Cave Audit noted, ‘there is scope for more effective use of public sector spectrum through the introduction of spectrum trading and increased sharing with other users, and [the government] will work with Ofcom to enable this.’ That endorsement effectively paved the way for a sharing of under-utilised public sector spectrum.
Bandsharing offers the private sector the ability to satisfy accelerating business and consumer demand for high capacity services. However the bandwidth can only be made available after the completion of a rigorous test programme in which Ofcom and government agencies are fully engaged, to ensure that existing and planned public services are not compromised or affected.
The trials programme, jointly funded by Ofcom and the Bandsharing Forum, will be facilitated by Ofcom to specifications laid down by the Public Spectrum Safety Test Group (PSSTG) and carried out by the Bandsharing Forum who are already working closely with the MOD, CAA and MCA.
The aim is to ensure new spectrum is commercially available as soon as possible. Representatives from the Bandsharing Forum, DTI, Ofcom, MOD, MCA and CAA have met to outline the test programme and anticipated timetable for the potential access to spectrum to interested parties from the public and private sector.
Antony Abell, Chairman of the Bandsharing Forum, commented: ‘This is an example of the best of the United Kingdom’s research and development sector combining with the public sector, industry and the financial community to deliver a UK led, world class technology to the global marketplace.
‘It is early days in the trial programmes but the Bandsharing Forum, with its public and private sector partners, looks forward to reporting on progress over the months to come.’