Ofcom frees radio spectrum for rural broadband

5.8GHz services expected in '04

Ofcom has allocated radio spectrum to enable the delivery wireless broadband to "the most remote rural communities in the country".

The new super-regulator says that the newly released 5.8GHz Band C spectrum range should be able to support typical download speeds of up to 1Mb/second. And it expects the first 5.8GHz services to come to market in 2004.

It will be interesting to see how the new 5.8GHz services will get along with the UK military, some of whose spectrum allocation they now share. According to Ofcom, interference will be minimised using new "Dynamic Frequency Selection" technology. The service could also conflict with Band C spectrum currently used by some outside TV broadcast units. This will not be an everyday occurrence, we suspect, but just in case, Ofcom will be "working
with broadcasters to ensure interference is avoided". Which is nice.

Ofcom is also very keen to promote broadband take-up in the countryside, so it is regulating the 5.8GHz Band C services under what it claims is a "light touch licensing regime". In practice this means that the licensing element of each customer's bill will be £1 per terminal per year.

Customers will also need to buy a 5.8GHz Band C terminal. ®

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