Ofcom has published proposals it says will allow radio spectrum licence holders to make more efficient use of their spectrum allocation and encourage innovation and investment in wireless communications services across the UK.
The new proposals by the UK regulator and competition authority for the UK broadcast media and telecommunications industries are to be found in the organisations’ Spectrum Framework Review which was published this week.
In the UK, spectrum has traditionally been centrally allocated and managed by the regulator. However, demand for spectrum has increased dramatically in recent years and centralised administration has resulted in an inefficient system which has limited the innovation and development of higher-value services.
The Spectrum Framework Review sets out key recommendations to address this problem. First off, it will allow the market to decide the best use for new spectrum allocations. It will also allow licence holders to trade spectrum in an open market and change the use they make of spectrum rights to develop new technologies and offer different services to customers. Furthermore, it will also define the rights of spectrum users, giving them the confidence to plan for the future as well as increase the amount of licence-exempt spectrum which allows businesses to develop and bring to market new technologies and services without the need for a licence.
Ofcom says that it will, over time, apply this market-led approach to over 70% of the radio spectrum (it is currently 0%). However, it says that it will maintain control over spectrum licences where signals cross international boundaries, where international mobility is critical, or where the UK has agreed to harmonise spectrum use in line with important multi-national accords.
Ofcom will continue to monitor and act against interference between spectrum users. It will also introduce trading and liberalisation in a phased way, intervening where necessary to make sure that these initiatives do not result in excessive harmful interference for other users.
Having published its views, Ofcom now wishes to gain feedback to discover what will limit the extent to which the market can be relied upon to deliver its objectives. Accordingly, it has published the Spectrum Framework Review document on the its Website <link>here= http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/current/sfr/</link>.