Ofcom explores spectrum sharing to meet mobile data demands

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom launched a consultation on spectrum sharing as it explores various ways of ensuring that mobile and Wi-Fi networks will be able to keep up with the growing appetite for data services in future.

The regulator said the aim of the consultation is to develop a better understanding of the role that spectrum accessed on a shared basis could play in the mobile broadband (mobile networks and Wi-Fi offload) and machine-to-machine (M2M) sectors alongside cleared spectrum bands.

"In particular we are seeking to understand the role that spectrum shared on licensed, licence exempt and a dynamic spectrum access basis could play in opening up access to more spectrum and supporting innovation, alongside any associated disadvantages, such as making it harder to manage interference between different spectrum users," Ofcom added.

The regulator noted that it is already adopting some strategies to increase spectrum availability by clearing spectrum at lower frequencies to improve rural coverage under the UHF Strategy, and at higher frequencies under the Government Public Sector Spectrum Release (PSSR) programme to increase capacity within cells.

"However, looking beyond these initiatives it is becoming increasingly difficult to find significant amounts of additional spectrum that can be fully cleared for use by wireless data services, in particular for highly sought after spectrum below 6 GHz," Ofcom commented. "Spectrum sharing is a potential solution to many of these demands for more spectrum."

Nevertheless, there are many challenges inherent in sharing spectrum resources, such as the increased risk of interference. As a result, Ofcom is now seeking feedback from the market, with the consultation set to run until Nov. 9 this year.

For more:
- see this Ofcom document (PDF)

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