The Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) has launched a consultation on proposals to review the allocation of radio spectrum as part of its programme to enable the introduction of next generation mobile technology to the Bailiwick. In it, the JCRA is seeking views from interested parties on the option of moving the existing radio spectrum allocations of some telecoms operators or potentially recommending the cancellation of their radio spectrum licences. With the regulator noting that it is specifically examining plans related to the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band, it noted that frequencies in this range have previously been licensed for the provision of ‘earlier wireless services’, adding that these existing historic allocations ‘prevent the creation of large blocks for new 5G services without changes in allocations’.
According to the JCRA, after examining the local situation and considering the approach taken in other comparable locations, it is now consulting on provisional plans to defragment the 3.4GHz-3.8 GHz spectrum band. In summarising its proposals, the authority has recommended to UK regulator Ofcom – which is responsible for managing the Bailiwick’s radio spectrum – that: the licences for spectrum presently held by Clear Mobitel, Newtel and Sure in the 3.4GHz-3.8GHz band are revoked subject to a three-year notice period; subject to accepting that revocation, existing historic licensees will receive new ‘Limited Service’ spectrum packages, as defined in the JCRA’s ‘5G Spectrum Award’; and new 5G licensees will be permitted to access any unused 3.4GHz-3.8 GHz spectrum during this notice period, following agreement with existing historic licensees over sharing arrangements necessary to avoid interference between services.
With a closing date of 31 March 2023 having been set for comments on the consultation, the JCRA’s chief executive Tim Ringsdore said: ‘One of our important duties as Jersey’s telecoms regulator is ensuring Islanders can access and rely on high-quality next generation mobile services in the future. Providing new 5G services that meet this expectation will require additional radio spectrum, some of which has been historically allocated to existing licensed telecoms operators. After carefully examining the situation, we believe it right to consider requesting these operators move to an alternative part of the spectrum band, or to give up their allocation. Our consultation explains the reasoning behind our provisional proposals – we’re looking forward to engaging through this process and determining the right approach.’