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Ofcom publishes its conclusion to the Spectrum Framework Review (posted 29 June 2005)

  • Read the full Ofcom Spectrum Framework Review Statement here

  • Ofcom press release: 28|06|05 | Ofcom approach to spectrum management |

  • Ofcom today published the conclusion of its Spectrum Framework Review, setting out its approach to the future management of radio spectrum in the UK. The Review advocates a market-led approach, in contrast to the previous regime under which the regulator decided the type of organisation that should have access to specific parts of the spectrum, and how they should be used. Ofcom’s proposals were subject to public consultation and were broadly supported by stakeholders.

    Ofcom has a range of duties relating to radio spectrum under the Communications Act 2003. These include a need to secure the optimal use of spectrum, to maximise the economic benefits from its use and to take into account the needs of all users. Ofcom also has an ambition to make the UK a world leader in innovation and investment in wireless communications services.

    The Spectrum Framework Review set out four key recommendations to achieve these duties and aims:

    1. Allow the market to decide on the best use and user for much of the spectrum.
    2. Allow licence holders to trade spectrum in an open market and change the use they make of it in order to develop new technologies and offer innovative services.
    3. Clearly define the rights of spectrum users, giving them the confidence to plan for the future.
    4. Increase the amount of licence-exempt spectrum where feasible and appropriate to allow businesses to develop new technologies and services without the need for a licence.

    Over time Ofcom will apply this market-led approach to more than 70% of the radio spectrum. However, it will maintain existing regulatory controls where:

    * signals cross international boundaries;
    * international mobility is critical, for example in aviation and maritime; and/or
    * the UK has agreed to harmonise spectrum use in line with important multinational accords.

    Ofcom will continue to monitor and act against interference between spectrum users. It will 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.

    In January 2005 Ofcom consulted on initial proposals to make a significant number of spectrum bands available to the market over the next few years. The consultation also outlined options for extending spectrum trading and liberalisation to mobile telecommunications and fixed wireless broadband services. Ofcom will publish an update on these aspects of spectrum management later this summer.


    - Press release on Ofcom website here

    29 June 2005 | Dugie Standeford | Communications Daily (Washington, USA) | a subscription news service: | Reproduced with permission of Warren Communications News

    Note: The following note appeared in Communications Daily on 29 June 2005 and appears here with special permission of Warren Communications News, a subscription news service available here

    "The U.K. Office of Communications (Ofcom) will take a light
    regulatory approach to radio spectrum management, generally
    intervening only where the market doesn't meet users' and citizens'
    needs, Ofcom said Tues. For the past 100 years, spectrum in the U.K.
    has been run by a central manager who decides what bands see use and
    by whom. But with demand outstripping supply in some areas, the
    'command and control' approach has become unwieldy as the govt.
    tries to choose among competing would-be service providers, Ofcom
    said. The regulator considered 3 approaches -- centralized; 'market
    mechanisms,' in which the spectrum is managed within the boundaries
    of license terms; and 'license-exempt use' or 'spectrum common,'
    where no one controls who uses the spectrum but power constraints
    or other mechanisms curb use to reduce chances of interference.
    Ofcom said it wants to move from central management to market
    forces and more use of the license-exemption. It plans to do that
    by allowing spectrum trading and liberalizing spectrum use. Where
    signals cross international boundaries, international mobility is
    critical (as for maritime and aeronautical applications). Where
    European Union harmonization measures are in force, however, Ofcom
    said it will exert some degree of management for the foreseeable
    future. The regulator envisions market forces will manage 72% of
    spectrum, while 7% will fall under license-exempt use, and the
    other 21% will be managed under current Ofcom approaches. The Open
    Spectrum Foundation, which lobbies for more radio bands for license
    exempt use, called Ofcom's decision disappointing. Ofcom 'made a few
    minor changes, like agreeing to periodic surveys of congestion in
    some of the unlicensed bands,' said Dir. Robert Horvitz. But it
    failed to understand its own statement that where use of particular
    equipment for wireless telegraphy isn't likely to cause harmful
    interference, that use must be exempt from license requirements, he
    said. Capping license-exempt spectrum at 800MHz or estimating how
    much of it is 'needed' is simply wrongheaded,' he said. Ofcom is
    required by law to justify the need for licensing, not license
    exemption, Horvitz said."

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