Ofcom Announces Spectrum Allocation Proposals

Communications regulator Ofcom has announced proposals for the UKs largest single release of radio spectrum, which could be used for a range of new services, such as mobile broadband and advanced wireless services.
The consultation document seeks views on proposals to auction licences to use three spectrum bands: 2500-2690 MHz, 2010-2025 MHz and 2290-2300 MHz. In total, 215 MHz will be available. The award of these bands would form an important part of Ofcoms approach in securing the optimal use of the spectrum. The consultation closes on 9 March 2007.
Ofcom proposes to release the spectrum on a technology- and service-neutral basis. This, it says, will allow organisations to decide how best to use the spectrum within certain minimum technical specifications to prevent harmful interference.
The proposals are part of a wider Ofcom programme to release around 400 MHz of prime spectrum to the market over the next few years, creating major opportunities for extra innovation and competition in wireless services. The programme includes a dozen different bands, including the spectrum freed up by digital television switchover, or Digital Dividend, for which Ofcom will publish proposals shortly.
Ofcom is consulting on proposals to package and auction the spectrum to offer maximum flexibility in the way that the bands could be used.  Ofcoms research into the bands has identified a number of potential uses of the spectrum. These include mobile broadband wireless services, offering high-speed, high-capacity mobile data connections using technologies such as WiMAX; mobile multimedia services, such as Mobile TV; advanced mobile services using technologies such as UMTS and its evolutions; and mobile broadcast, such as wireless cameras for outside broadcasts and temporary or portable video links.
Ofcom believes that the most efficient way of securing the optimal use of the bands covered in the consultation document is by awarding licences through auction, as this  makes the spectrum open to the widest possible range of users.
In the consultation document published today, Ofcom proposes to release the spectrum though two separate auctions. The bands 2500-2690 MHz, and 2010-2025 MHz will be packaged into a number of lots and auctioned together. Participants will be able to bid for multiple lots. The auction will be conducted online using a secure server, and there will be a number of rounds to the auction. The bands 2290-2300 MHz will be packaged as a single lot and auctioned though a sealed bid process.
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcoms main objective for the awards is to promote optimal use of the spectrum in the interests of consumers and citizens, and not to raise revenue. The release of these bands, says Ofcom, creates important opportunities for additional competition, innovation and expansion in wireless services.
For the award of the bands 2500-2690 MHz, the proposed auction process has been designed to allow multiple licences to be granted. Ofcom believes that the spectrum could be released by the end of 2007, although this is subject to ongoing EU regulatory discussions. All licences are proposed to be tradable.
“Spectrum is a valuable resource that is central to the operation of modern communications says Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards. Releasing more spectrum to the market will create new opportunities for innovation in wireless technologies, promoting competition and driving convergence.
You can see the full consultation document here.