UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has invited stakeholders to express their interest in acquiring spectrum that is being released for civil use by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last month the MoD revealed it was preparing to release a total of 190MHz of spectrum, 40MHz of which is in the 2.3GHz band, with a further 150MHz above 3.4GHz, to Ofcom. With all of the frequencies suitable for mobile broadband uses, the ministry had initially planned to auction some of its radio spectrum in what would have been the first direct sale of its kind by a government department. However, it turned over the responsibility for making the sale arrangements to the telecoms regulator having said that the latter had ‘significant experience and expertise in this area and is well positioned to manage the process’.
Ofcom has said that, in its initial view, the spectrum on offer is likely to be attractive to companies wishing to deliver 4G wireless broadband services, and it has claimed that releasing the frequencies for 4G mobile broadband could potentially lead to improved 4G competition and capacity. However, the watchdog has said it is also interested in alternative views about how the spectrum could be used. Ofcom says it will use the information received from stakeholders to help design ‘the most appropriate means for awarding the spectrum, which may be by auction’, and it expects the spectrum to be awarded in the 2015-16 financial year. Responses to the consultation must be submitted by 27 November 2013.
Commenting on the plans to make the frequencies available for commercial use, Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards stated: ‘This is a very significant next step forward in Ofcom’s long-term strategy for managing spectrum … 4G is likely to open up a new wave of wireless innovation that will deliver considerable benefits to society and the UK’s digital economy. However, this development will also place huge demands on the UK’s wireless infrastructure. Releasing MOD spectrum onto the commercial marketplace is an important step in helping to meet this extraordinary demand.’