Ofcom sets out spectrum sharing framework

Ofcom published a new framework that it will apply to future decisions on spectrum sharing, and also said it is considering the 3.8-4.2 GHz band as the first opportunity under the structure for shared access.

The UK telecoms and media regulator said it would apply the sharing framework to inform future spectrum authorisation decisions, noting that demand for spectrum is continuing to grow. It added that "greater and more intense" spectrum sharing is becoming possible because of more sophisticated technologies and new authorisation approaches.

Ofcom already allows shared access to spectrum in many bands, but plans to increase emphasis on sharing to address this growing demand. Although some concerns have been raised about how sharing will be implemented and managed, the regulator noted that it had received broad industry support for its proposed measures.

The first suggested candidate for sharing under the new framework, the upper part of C-band (3.8-4.2GHz), is currently used by fixed services, fixed satellite services and a national spectrum licence for fixed wireless access services held by UK Broadband.

"We wish to understand the opportunities for and impacts of more intensive sharing in this band, with a particular interest in new innovative services. We have published a call for inputs…on potential new sharing opportunities in the 3.8-4.2 GHz band," Ofcom said.

The regulator said it believes that this band has the potential to be accessed on a more intense shared basis by innovative applications with different requirements.

"Our preliminary view is that we could develop geographic licences, which could enable the delivery of a defined quality of service, in spectrum currently not assigned on a geographic basis and separated from fixed links and satellite earth stations. We also believe at this point that it may be possible to consider facilitating opportunistic spectrum access across the band without causing undue interference to existing licences," Ofcom observed.

Ofcom has made a number of decisions with respect to spectrum allocation and usage in recent months as it seeks to meet the increasingly complex and varied demands for radio frequencies.

In March, it said it was allocating 10 MHz of VHF spectrum to encourage UK investment in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Earlier in March, it said the 700 MHz frequency band in the UK could be cleared for use by mobile data services no later than the second quarter of 2020. It has also completed regulations on the use of white space spectrum for the provision of new wireless services.

For more:
- see the Ofcom spectrum-sharing framework

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