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Ofcom consults on sharing spectrum frequencies

12 August 2015

As a result of this, Ofcom are exploring various ways to mitigate such demands on the telecommunications infrastructure, one of which is to allow for the sharing of spectrum bands, the subject of which they have prepared a consultation paper (Spectrum bands are shared when the same spectrum band is accessed by multiple users and/or for different type of uses).

The consultation prepared by Ofcom is to ensure that the appropriate spectrum is available to meet demand from both new and existing users and minimise the scope for parts of the spectrum to remain underutilised. In particular, Ofcom wants to promote innovation and allow for new services and entrants.

Ofcom’s framework identities the following elements that should help it identify how and where to consider sharing the spectrum:

Potential barriers to sharing

  • The availability of information on spectrum use and spectrum demand that can be used and analysed by Ofcom; without such information on use, it is not possible to identify the opportunities for sharing the spectrum bands
  • Marketing mechanisms, including transparency, high transaction costs, lack of incentives and strategic concerns
  • Technological challenges
  • Constraints on flexible spectrum use from Ofcom’s own regulatory approach

Tools and enablers that could have potential to facilitate or enable further sharing

  • Increased information available to Ofcom and/or the market, including information on actual use, in real-time or looking forward
  • Market enablers; how market mechanisms could be developed to overcome some of the barriers to sharing by commercial agreement
  • Technology enablers; ways that technology can enable more intelligent and efficient sharing
  • Authorisation tools; Ofcom to use authorisation conditions to provide incentives to share or to make sharing technically feasible

High level “characteristic of use”

  • Characteristics of use should help to give a high level picture of what an incumbent or new user needs from spectrum access. Looking at these characteristics on a case by case basis should give an initial insight into whether two types of users might able to share.

High level characteristics relate to:

  • Temporal requirement of the service
  • Geography and coverage
  • Quality of service
  • Technical issues: power and directionality
  • Economies of scale and harmonisation
  • Capacity requirement
  • Density of use
  • How these characteristics evolve over the terms of the authorisations involved

Ofcom seeks views on the elements of its proposed framework by 2 October 2015.

To see for Ofcom’s consultation – a framework for spectrum sharing, please click here.  

This article was written by Richard Hall. For more information please contact Richard on +44 (0)20 7203 5163 or richard.hall@crsblaw.com