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Airwaves opened up to support wireless revolution

Person on smartphone in field

Ofcom yesterday released a statement on extended shared access to spectrum in a range of frequency bands. This is following up from their Enabling Opportunities for Innovation consultation released in Dec 2018.

The main aim is to open up spectrum for innovation and supporting new services. This could have use cases for private networks for enterprise use such as farmers, business parks, factories and in the case of media delivery potentially PMSE.

One of the unique aspects of the statement is that bands that have been sold to MNOs for mobile broadband can now potentially accessed by secondary users for a 3 year licence period with a fee of 950 GBP. The scheme is called Local Access Licencing and includes bands such as 800 MHz and will also include the 700 MHz after it has been auctioned next year.

The system will operate by Ofcom agreeing proposals between existing licensees and potential secondary users and then issuing a licence accordingly. Applicants for use of the spectrum will have to provide evidence as to why they think the spectrum is not being used in an area.

MNOs could provide ‘reasonable objections’ to requests to use the spectrum they have a licence for, however, they would have to provide technical assessments showing the spectrum is already in use in an area, or that there is planned use within the 3 year licence period, or that new third-party services would cause interference to their existing deployments.

Overall the proposal has the potential to open an ecosystem with harmonised spectrum and existing chipsets to new services and applications. The question is whether, unlike the spectrum trading framework, the new Local Access Licence scheme will be actually be used.

As well as MNO bands, Ofcom has outlined new local licence schemes for the following bands:

  • the 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz shared spectrum bands, which are currently used for mobile services;
  • the 3.8-4.2 GHz band, which supports the latest 5G mobile technology; and
  • the 26 GHz band, which has also been identified as one of the main bands for 5G in the future. We have added this band since first proposing our spectrum sharing approach in December 2018.

A news release is available where the statement can be downloaded. In addition, Philip Marnick, Spectrum Group Director at Ofcom, said:

“Wireless spectrum is a valuable, finite resource, so it’s vital we use it efficiently.

“Our new sharing approach will help more people access airwaves to create local networks around the UK. The benefits of this innovation could extend across our economy, from farms to factories, as well as supporting new technology firms.”

Written by DTG Team

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