Out-Law News 1 min. read

Expect more spectrum sharing, says Ofcom

Telecoms companies and other users of radio frequencies will be expected to share spectrum more often in the future, the UK's telecoms regulator has said.

Ofcom has set out a draft new framework for determining whether spectrum can and should be shared (41-page / 306KB PDF) by different users. It said it wants to support innovative new uses of spectrum but that it would consider potential spectrum sharing arrangements in specific frequency bands on a case by case basis.

"By consulting on this framework, we both hope to refine our analysis and to build recognition and acceptance among stakeholders that sharing between uses and users is likely to happen across an increasing number of spectrum bands, as demand increases over time," Ofcom said.

"Our objective is to ensure the appropriate spectrum is available to meet demand from both new and existing uses and minimise the scope for spectrum to remain underutilised. In particular we want to promote innovation and allow for new services and new entrants. This framework is relevant to any spectrum band and any new demand to use spectrum, but it is not a programme to enforce sharing in every band," it said.

Ofcom said that when considering prospective spectrum sharing that it would consider both barriers to sharing as well as "sharing tools and enablers". Technological, regulatory and market factors will be assessed as part of this process, it said.

In addition, Ofcom will take specific characteristics of the use incumbents make of spectrum and of the use new entrants' intend to make of it too when determining whether to authorise sharing of spectrum.

Among the characteristics it will assess is whether the spectrum is used all the time, on a national-wide or localised basis, what the capacity requirements are and whether it is important that use of the spectrum is harmonised across the EU and further afield.

Ofcom's proposed framework is open to consultation until 2 October. 

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