Ofcom has published proposals to change the way it licenses non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) systems, also known as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) based ultrafast broadband satellite constellations, such as British-registered OneWeb, which will connect people to the internet in hard-to-reach areas. The process will consist of new checks on potential interference between networks and publishing licence applications so that other interested parties have an opportunity to raise any interference or competition concerns. Under the proposed licence conditions, different networks will be required to co-operate with each other on technical matters to avoid the risk of disruption to their services. (more…)
Ofcom has published a statement on its spectrum strategy, identifying three areas of increased focus:
Supporting wireless innovation: Making it even easier for a broad range of users to access spectrum by making more spectrum available for innovation before its long-term future use is certain; working to support innovation in new wireless technologies; and expanding work to understand, assist and inform the broad range of organisations who may benefit from wireless technologies in the future. (more…)
Ofcom has published the proposed licence fees for the 412–414 MHz and 422–424 MHz paired spectrum which is currently licensed to Arqiva and Airwave. Arqiva won this spectrum in a 2006 auction, with a 15-year initial licence period during which no additional fees would be required. The initial period will come to an end later this year at which point an annual licence fee will become payable. Arqiva traded part of the spectrum with Airwave in 2008 – making Airwave the co-licensee.
Ofcom is proposing that the annual fee be set at £396,000 per MHz, which is in line with what Business Radio users pay for a UK-wide licence in nearby bands.
The deadline for comments is 16 July 2021.
The new regulations will come into force on 12 May 2021 and will implement the decisions below.
Wi-Fi & other Radio Local Area Network (RLAN) technologies
An extra 500 MHz of spectrum from 5925 to 6425 MHz will be allocated for Wi-Fi and RLAN devices and the Dynamic
Frequency Selection (DFS) requirements in the 5.8 GHz band (5725 to 5850 MHz) is being removed. Both these measures will make more channels available, increase capacity and reduce congestion in existing Wi-Fi bands caused by increasing numbers of connected devices. (more…)
Following the announcement of the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz band principal stage winners, Ofcom has confirmed that the auction has moved into a period of negotiation. Bidders have the opportunity to negotiate the frequency positions among themselves in order to facilitate trades to join together the frequencies they have secured with spectrum they already hold in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band.
The first phase of this negotiation period runs until 16 April 2021. If a second phase is required, this is expected to take place between 19 and 23 April 2021.
- EE Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000; 20 MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £4,000,000; and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.
- Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000.
- Vodafone Limited has won 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £176,400,000.
- Telefónica UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000, and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.
After a pause in the process, bidding in the principal stage begins today. The UK’s four main mobile networks – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – will bid for spectrum in two different frequency bands:
- The 700 MHz band: 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band is being released. These airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage – including in the countryside.
- The 3.6-3.8 GHz band: 120 MHz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band is being released. These airwaves are part of the primary band for 5G and capable of boosting mobile data capacity, carrying lots of data-hungry connections.
Last year Ofcom announced that the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz 5G Auction would begin this month (to improve coverage and speed of 5G mobile broadband networks). There was a pause in the process due to the current COVID-19 lockdown and it has now been confirmed the start of the auction will be in March 2021. Ofcom will continue to monitor the situation in the meantime.
Earlier this month Ofcom announced the four bidders as EE Limited, Hutchison 3G UK Limited, Telefónica UK Limited and Vodafone Limited. The regulations for the auction came into force in November 2020.
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
In January this year, Ofcom published proposals for increasing terrestrial access to three spectrum bands in the 100-200 GHz range (116-122 GHz, 174.8-182 GHz and 185-190 GHz), currently used by Earth Exploration Satellite Services. This was followed by a further consultation in May covering the technical analysis. Ofcom has set out its decision to introduce the new licence which can be applied for through Ofcom’s website, from today. (more…)