Feeds

Ofcom mulls what to do with 8MHz of prime spectrum

Free to a good home?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Ofcom is seeking opinions on what to do with 8MHz of prime spectrum, with everything from selling to the highest bidder to allowing unlicensed usage on the agenda.

The spectrum is in two blocks of 4MHz; one starting at 872MHz and the other at 917MHz. These are perilously close to the spectrum used by Vodafone and O2 for their GSM services, and capable of interfering with those networks if high-power use is permitted. This is what's tempting Ofcom down the unlicensed-but-restricted route though the regulator still needs convincing that such an approach yields the greatest value.

Ideally the regulator would like to sell off the blocks to the highest bidder in the normal way, but the fact that the buyer will have to negotiate with O2 and Vodafone to avoid interference reduces the value of the spectrum considerably, perhaps enough to make the spectrum more valuable if it's given away.

To understand this argument you have to understand how Ofcom thinks: the regulator doesn't use auctions to raise revenue, it genuinely believes that doing so incentivises the buyer into making maximum use of the spectrum, and making maximum use of the spectrum is what Ofcom is charged with doing.

In this instance there is an argument that no-one is going to roll out a national network dancing around the incumbents, especially as they start pushing 3G technology (and beyond) into their spectrum, so maximum use may be better achieved by setting some caps on transmission power and allowing free use.

Ofcom reckons that could mean short-range radios, and RFID tags, but wants to know if anyone thinks unmanned aircraft might usefully be deployed in the space, or remote meter reading, or anything else you can think of.

Another possibility is another wireless broadband provider, but they'd have to pay the existing operators to fit better filters (at an estimated cost of £5.4m, not including fitting), or run their network at very low power. The Ministry Of Defence owns some adjacent blocks, which may come up for auction during 2012: that would make the spectrum much more attractive for broadband but few companies will gamble on the MOD keeping to schedule.

Ofcom does lean in the direction of an auction (pdf) - noting that spectrum that is licensed can thereafter been thrown to the commons if the situation changes. But spectrum that is thrown open cannot easily be reclaimed. If you disagree, or feel the risk is worth taking, then Ofcom is open for comments until 3rd November. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages
Hello. HELLO. Can EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE HEAR ME?!
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?