Comments from Steve Kennedy

Comments from Euro Tech News communication maven Steve Kennedy: Well since you mentioned it, I thought I better comment: [In the OFCOM auction of six years ago], 2010-2025 MHz was meant for self provisioned IMT-2000 services, however no operator in the UK has launched any such service. Other operators in Europe have. 2500-2690 MHz was reserved in case the new entrant (in the UK's case "3" didn't make it) or expansion was required for the existing networks. Since 3G hasn't really taken off to the extent that the operators hoped it would, they probably don't actually need it--that doesn't mean they won't put up a good fight saying they should have it. OFCOM has made proposals of auctioning off the spectrum in 16 chunks: One in 2010-2025 MHz, 14 in 2500-2690 MHz, and 1 in 2290-2300 MHz. OFCOM wants to license this as technology-neutral spectrum (in line with EU and OFCOM policy). This could be used for 3G, WiMAX, or multimedia distribution (or something completely innovative). These bands are all harmonized European bands and OFCOM abides by EU policy, which means they'll need agreement from CEPT (sort of European ITU, made up of 47 countries) and RSC (the EC version, which is made up of 25 member states). Luckily, CEPT are already discussing this and are expected to make a decision in summer 2007 with RCS following shortly after (since CEPT is a superset of RSC, RSC should just follow their decision). So OFCOM hopes to make the spectrum available in fall 2007, but it could easily be delayed to 2008--getting 47 countries to decide on anything can take a long time. That's where the FCC have a much easier time of it ... 1 organization covering a continent. BT need a wireless solution to deliver high bandwidth services (as part of their 21CN initiative) to rural areas (IPTV, VoIP, etc.). Therefore, they are interested in any spectrum--it's just that WiMAX is the buzz of the moment, the technology doesn't really matter except standardized equipment becomes much more cost effective. It's also likely they are still talking to Pipex (or Pipex Wireless) which recently got £21 million funding from Intel to deliver a WiMAX solution in the 3.5-3.6 GHz band (though Pipex's license currently only allows fixed wireless access, i.e., fixed links, and doesn't allow for 802.16e mobile WiMAX--though Pipex will be trying to get the license amended. As an aside, Pipex gained their license from purchasing another company (FirstNet), which had actually acquired Tele2 (who initially had the license)--it was zero rated on the books!!! BT may well also be in discussion with PCCW, which own a national 3.4 GHz license (again, currently only allowing fixed links). Running a network is expensive and a lot of the costs are backhaul. BT have the most comprehensive network in the UK (they own 85 percent of the UK infrastructure), so for them to run services on their own network makes life much easier (ignoring regulatory issues). Whether they bid or acquire will come down to commercials.

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