Feeds

Why there will never be another GSM

Ofcom squares up to EU over spectrum carve-up

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Comment Ofcom is changing the way spectrum is licensed in the UK to remove usage restrictions, but the EU is calling for region-wide harmonisation of use to create economies of scale.

These diverse approaches are going to lead to an unavoidable clash of ideologies that could mean the success of GSM is never repeated.

Great chunks of spectrum are becoming available around the world with the switch off of analogue TV, and traditional licensing mechanisms are increasingly being seen as limiting innovation while protecting incumbents and preventing proper competition. But usage-specific licences are an easy way of minimising interference and ensuring equipment compatibility.

When broadcast radio started in the UK in 1922, it took five months for the 18 companies involved to come up with a proposal for a national broadcaster to manage transmissions, and to decide that both receivers and transmitters would need to be licensed.

Back then, the choice of frequency was just a matter of picking one which offered the greatest range and was able to carry an audio signal. Any potential interference was addressed by switching off transmissions every seven minutes and listening for complaints coming in on the same frequency.

Crystal clear

A general rule is that the higher the frequency the greater the data that can be carried, but the shorter the range and the greater the power needed for transmission. So audio broadcasting was quick to grab Medium Wave, around 530 kilohertz to 1.6MHz, allowing the BBC to reach half the UK population with only eight transmitters at limited quality.

TV needs a lot more bandwidth, but still wanted decent range so broadcast TV grabbed the next available chunk, from 474MHz up to 850MHz, leaving later applications such as mobile telephony to camp in higher frequencies starting around 900MHz.

When spectrum was simply being allocated, without charge, governments generally grabbed all they could for their own use. In the UK that amounts to over half of the spectrum below 15GHz, mostly (75 per cent) used by the military, while 12 per cent goes to civil aviation and five per cent to the emergency services. The rest is split between maritime and scientific uses.

Not only is Ofcom planning to auction off great chunks of the spectrum currently used by analogue TV, but it's also set its sights on that 50 per cent owned by the various government agencies, including the military, arguing that such agencies should pay market prices for spectrum or be forced to sell it off to ensure greater utilisation.

Those who buy spectrum in the upcoming auctions won't have to hand them back after a limited time period. These will be perpetual licences which can be sold on or sub-let to other users. And those users won't be limited to a specific technology. They'll be able to deploy whatever they like as long as they don't generate too much interference for their neighbours.

The success of GSM can be attributed to the way a particular technology was mandated, along with the frequencies at which it operated; initially 900MHz, allowing mass production of equipment which drove down the cost of handsets as well as network infrastructure. The use of the same technical standard on neighbouring frequencies (licensed by different operators) also reduces the chance of interference, as the standard incorporates limits on broadcast power as well as interference-avoidance techniques, making life much easier for the regulator.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.