Feeds

Ofcom mulls what to do with 8MHz of prime spectrum

Free to a good home?

New hybrid storage solutions

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
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US
Biting the bullet would let Blighty-based biz flip the bird at AT&T
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
Net neutrality fans' joy as '2.3 million email' flood hits US Congress
FCC invites opinions in CSV format, after Slowdown day 'success'
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.