FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Spotlight on Spectrum: The Digital Dividend, Ofcom, and the ITU Regional Radiocommunications Conference 2006 (RRC-06)
The Communications Management Association and Open Spectrum UK agree:
Wireless broadband for underserved areas is the Digital Dividend's best use.
The Communications Management Association has endorsed the statement
drafted by Open Spectrum UK for Ofcom's "Digital Dividend Review".
"Your sentiments and analysis coincide with ours and we are able to
sign up to your paper" said David Harrington, leader of CMA's Special
Interest Group for Regulatory Affairs.
"We thank CMA for their support and look forward to working with them
again in future", replied Open Spectrum UK's convenor, John Wilson.
"CMA's endorsement is timely, with the regional planning conference
for digital television starting on 15 May in Geneva", added Wilson.
"That event that will determine the size and shape of the Digital
Dividend," he explained.
WHAT IS THE "DIGITAL DIVIDEND"?
The switchover from analogue to digital television by 2012 is expected
to release a large amount of prime radio spectrum for other uses. How
to re-deploy the released spectrum - the so-called "Digital Dividend"
- is the subject of an increasingly heated debate, as rival claimants
argue for their needs, and UK regulator Ofcom tries to decide how to
distribute the frequencies.
Last November, Ofcom launched a consultation with stakeholders,
experts and the public, to gather ideas and recommendations for
re-deploying the "Digital Dividend".
To set the stage for their "Digital Dividend Review", Ofcom
commissioned Analysys Ltd. to study and report on the "optimum
framework for releasing available spectrum to the market in a way that
maximises benefits for the economy and society over time..."
Open Spectrum UK was asked by Analysys to provide input to this
process. The response was a 32-page statement publicly available here∞.
OPEN SPECTRUM UK'S STATEMENT
Some of the main points in Open Spectrum UK's statement are:
The physical characteristics of VHF and UHF - the bands now used for
free-to-air broadcasting - make them most appropriate for services
that society wants to make ubiquitous. High-speed Internet now tops
the list of such services. In the past, broadcasting provided
"analogue inclusion". Today, broadband provides "digital inclusion"
with a much richer variety of user-empowering services. Expanding
broadband access to the Internet - especially in areas which are
currently underserved - would be the most economically productive and
socially beneficial use of the Digital Dividend.
Wireless broadband is the best Internet access solution for
low-density (rural) settlements, and networks built for UHF cost less
than comparable networks built for higher bands. Therefore, allowing
wireless Internet access networks to use UHF will expand the territory
where broadband is economically viable.
But experience has shown that rural areas are not likely to win
spectrum license auctions in competition with higher-density areas.
Therefore, Ofcom should reserve spectrum for broadband access in rural
and underserved areas without requiring license auctions. (Ofcom had
earlier indicated that its preference was not to choose "winners" of
the "Digital Dividend" but rather to offer parts of the "Dividend" to
the highest bidders.)
Analysys' report is due to be released at the end of September. It
will be followed by Ofcom's final draft proposals for the "Digital
REGIONAL PLANNING CONFERENCE FOR DIGITAL TV
Starting on 15 May, the International Telecommunication Union will
host a month-long conference in Geneva, Switzerland, to plan the
switchover from analogue to digital television in about 120 countries,
including all of Europe. The official name of this conference is the
"ITU Regional Radiocommunications Conference 2006 (RRC-06)".
Frequencies that the conference decides are not needed for digital
broadcasting will constitute the "Digital Dividend".
Some of those involved in the conference have already warned that
there may not be any "left over" frequencies in some countries, and
any frequencies left over won't be the same in different countries.
However, Ofcom has said it expects 112 MHz of "fully cleared" UHF
spectrum to be available in the UK for "new uses" - "fully cleared"
means it will be available throughout the UK - plus an additional 208
MHz of partly cleared spectrum - that is, spectrum which is available
in some parts of the UK but not everywhere.
In mid-June, we shall see if these predictions are accurate, and which
frequencies will be released. Only then will be possible to start
practical discussions about the "Digital Dividend" and its future
Ofcom DDR Digital Dividend Review:
ITU, Regional Radiocommunication Conference (RRC-06),
Geneva, Switzerland, 15 May 2006 to 16 June 2006:
Open Spectrum UK
Open Spectrum UK: Comments submitted to Analysys on Ofcom's Digital Dividend Review
Communications Management Association
About the CMA:
The Communications Management Association is the UK's premier business
communications membership association. It represents corporate
enterprises in both the public and private sectors and individual
professionals who have responsibility for or manage communications
CMA is a registered charity and a Company Limited by Guarantee. CMA
members are drawn from the ranks of the top 1,000 businesses and
corporations. CMA members spend £11 billion per annum in the UK ICT
market.``CMA uses its influence to put across the customer's`view,
wherever and whenever that influence can be most effective,`both in
the UK and on the wider European scene.
About Open Spectrum UK:
Open Spectrum UK was convened in January 2005 to make a written
submission to Ofcom's "Spectrum Framework Review" on behalf of a
coalition of non-profit organisations engaged in community wireless
networking and the promotion of license-free access to the public
airwaves. It continues as an advocacy project to engage informed
debate upon the future of radio regulation in the UK.
The radio spectrum represents the new frontier of the digital
revolution - "the Invisible Wealth of Nations". Open Spectrum UK
argues for a balance of the commercial and the public interest in
managing this strategic national resource.
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