Ofcom launches spectrum management strategy

Regulator details plans to meet future demands for wireless services


Six key priorities have been set out by Ofcom for spectrum usage over the next ten years to prepare the UK's wireless infrastructure for the expected increases in demand for bandwidth from mobile devices.

The watchdog said its "Spectrum Management Strategy" would enable the UK to squeeze more out of finite spectrum resources using innovative methods of spectrum sharing, and by promoting technology improvements that minimise interference.

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Ofcom is planning to provide more information on how spectrum is used in the UK, and has published an interactive spectrum map that provides details on how different frequencies are used geographically. It also wants to lead discussions on international spectrum issues.

Our spectrum management strategy is aimed at ensuring the regulatory approach helps the UK take as many of these opportunities as possible.

At the top of the list of priorities for spectrum management are mobile demands. Ofcom said it would consider the potential impact these have on other spectrum users, and would also look to support improvements in mobile coverage and monitor developments towards 5G technologies.

It will also examine the case for more spectrum to be released with the possibility of rearranging the bands used for digital terrestrial TV after 2018 to give mobile services more capacity.

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Furthermore, it plans to support the Government in achieving its target to release 500 MHz of spectrum from the public sector, including the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum presently being used by the Ministry of Defence. This is to ensure organisations, such as the emergency services, have the coverage they need to operate effectively.

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It will also consider the needs of TV and event firms to make sure cameras and microphones used in outside locations are able to operate effectively with the spectrum they have.

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications are expected to increase and Ofcom said it would start work on understanding the implications of this growth and enable licence exempt access to the 870-915 MHz band to support innovation in this area.

"As we move to an increasingly digital infrastructure across our economy, it is wireless services which offer some of the most exciting opportunities for growth and innovation," said Ed Richards, Ofcom CEO. "Our spectrum management strategy is aimed at ensuring the regulatory approach helps the UK take as many of these opportunities as possible.

"We are looking forward to working closely with people and organisations across the UK and beyond who share our ambitions for this crucial and growing area."

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