Licence-exempt frequency bands are those that can be used without the need for prior authorisation or acquisition of an individual right of use. Most licence-exempt bands available in the UK have been harmonised throughout Europe and the relevant regulatory and technical considerations are transposed into national law. The exception being the 5925-6425 MHz band that is currently subject to a European Commission Mandate which is expected to complete later this year defining the regulatory conditions for licence-exempt usage throughout Europe. There is an expectation, by many, that an extension should be given for further licence-exempt usage within 6425-7125 MHz at some point in the future, but there are others with a preference for an exclusive licensed approach.
The ease with which services can be deployed in licence-exempt spectrum has led to an explosion in their use. The most common uses are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both in 2.4 GHz, Wi-Fi in the 5 GHz band, and in the future licence-exempt technology neutral access to the 57-71 GHz band.
Access to licence-exempt bands provide significant benefits for end users / consumers, equipment vendors, and service providers. The value of these services and applications provided is incredibly important, and likely to continue to increase alongside increasing value resulting from use of licensed spectrum.
Ofcom has recently made proposals about sharing spectrum, including 3GPP bands and industry needs to collaborate to ensure the smooth deployment of these new proposals.
For 2020, the Licence-exempt Shared Spectrum Working Group will develop responses to relevant UK Ofcom consultations; highlight the importance and value of licence-exempt spectrum (including 4G/5G offload); collate an evidence base of international use cases, prioritising the bands outlined in the groups scope. The Licence-exempt Shared Spectrum Working Group will liaise with Communications Infrastructure Council (CIC), UK Spectrum Policy Forum (UK SPF), and other relevant techUK groups as appropriate.
Scope of Licence-exempt Shared Spectrum Working Group:
- Respond to UK Ofcom consultations on licence-exempt shared spectrum
- Importance and value of access to licence-exempt mid-band and higher frequency spectrum
- Evidence based “International use cases”
- Priority frequency bands include:
- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz - offload, coverage, societal value, new rule changes (e.g. DFS removal, 5150 MHz WRC-19)
- 5925-6425 MHz - EC Mandate and ECC Decision, and eventual access to this mid-band, UK interface requirements
- 6425-7125 MHz -
- Develop, capture, consolidate where possible, a range of industry views on licence-exemption in the 6 GHz band
- Liaise as appropriate with CIC, UK SPF Cluster 1, 2, and 4 plus any other relevant techUK groups
- 57-71 GHz – coexistence starting at 66 GHz