Ofcom’s ten-year spectrum management strategy

Ofcom’s ten-year spectrum management strategy

Ofcom has published its consultation ‘Supporting the UK’s wireless future – Our spectrum management strategy for the 2020s’ setting out its plans to manage the use of the spectrum over the next ten years.

The proposals are grouped into three strategic themes:

  • Supporting wireless innovation
  • Licensing to fit local and national services
  • Promoting spectrum sharing

On the first, Ofcom will support innovation by making it as easy as possible for different types and sizes of organisation to access the right spectrum for them, and by providing flexibility in spectrum use to deal with unpredictable future requirements. It will also aim to reduce barriers for new entrants and support greater competition in wireless technologies and services.

On the second, Ofcom is considering further options for localised spectrum access when authorising new access to spectrum in the future. With a growing diversity of spectrum users and applications, it will be important to get the right balance between national licences and smaller ones. More localised licences would better suit a range of businesses needing specialised services at a specific site. Examples given are wireless control of robots in a warehouse or tracking livestock on a remote farm. Larger licences would better suit services with wider coverage.

Finally, on spectrum sharing, Ofcom will continue to use automated spectrum management tools allowing it to authorise and modify spectrum use in near real-time, by a utilising a direct interface between devices and a spectrum management database. The plan is to use this capability in several shared bands, including the 3.8-4.2 GHz band. Ofcom sees an opportunity to embed further spectrum sharing reforms in higher frequencies in the future. A range of reforms has been identified such as promoting the use of better data when assessing the conditions for sharing between different services and encouraging wireless systems to be more resilient to interference.

The consultation closes on 26 February 2021. Ofcom expects to publish conclusions in Q2 2021/22.