UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has unveiled a spectrum blueprint under which it aims to ensure that it can meet the growing demands placed on the country’s wireless infrastructure over the next decade. The Spectrum Management Strategy sets out Ofcom’s strategic approach and priorities for managing radio spectrum, with the watchdog saying that the work complemented the states plans to double the contribution that spectrum services make to the UK economy to GB100 billion (USD168 billion) a year by 2025. Ofcom has published its approach to spectrum sharing with a view to promoting ‘further innovation and the efficient use of this valuable resource’.
As part of its plans, Ofcom has published an interactive spectrum map providing details on how different frequencies are used in the UK, which it says will lead discussions on international spectrum issues. It has listed six priorities for spectrum management, including:
• Future mobile data demands; with the regulator to consider the potential impact on other users of spectrum. Ofcom has said it will also contribute to international decisions, examine in detail the case for using more spectrum for mobile data, support improvements in mobile coverage and monitor developments towards 5G technology.
• The future of the 700MHz band; with the regulator said to be investigating the potential to rearrange the bands used for digital terrestrial TV, it has suggested that this could release more spectrum in the 700MHz band for mobile broadband use sometime after 2018.
• Public sector spectrum release; Ofcom will support the government in achieving its target to release 500MHz of spectrum from the public sector. A first step will be the release of frequencies in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, currently held by the Ministry of Defence.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said of the plans: ‘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. Our spectrum management strategy is aimed at ensuring the regulatory approach helps the UK take as many of these opportunities as possible.’