Ofcom To Allocate Military Spectrum For 4G Services

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Ofcom invites expressions of interest for 190MHz spectrum to be released for civil use by 2016

Ofcom plans to release 190MHz spectrum currently being used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to help cope with the growing demand for mobile broadband by improving 4G capacity and competition.

The regulator has invited stakeholders to register their interest in acquiring the spectrum, which could be re-farmed for civil use as early as 2015, and is equivalent to three quarters of the total bandwidth available at the Ofcom 4G auction last February.

Although Ofcom expects 4G operators to be the most likely bidders for the spectrum, it is eager to hear about alternative uses for the airwaves, especially given the expected rise of the Internet of things.

Ofcom military spectrum

afghanistan militaryComments on the proposals must be submitted before 27 November and will help Ofcom decide on the structure of the allocation process, which might well be an auction.

“This is a very significant next step forward in Ofcom’s long-term strategy for managing spectrum,” says Ofcom CEO Ed Richards. “Over the next decade we will see a revolution in the way that people connect to the internet, driven by the ability to wirelessly access the internet at super fast speeds. 4G is likely to open up a new wave of wireless innovation that will deliver considerable benefits to society and the UK’s digital economy.

“However this development will also place huge demands on the UK’s wireless infrastructure. Releasing MOD spectrum onto the commercial marketplace is an important step in helping to meet this extraordinary demand.”

Ofcom has announced a number of measures to cope with this demand by making more efficient use of the UK’s airwaves. It recently launched Europe’s first major trial of white space technology in a number of locations across the UK, while it is investigating the possibility of using the 700MHz band currently occupied by Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) transmissions for so-called ‘5G’ services.

Military spectrum was borrowed by Ofcom during the London 2012 Olympic Games to assist security and emergency services, organisers and team members as well as infrastructure such as wireless starter guns and timing and scoring systems.

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