16 Oct 2023

UK SPF Cluster 3 Event Round-up: Spectrum Sharing

The UK SPF Cluster 3 hosted the workshop on Spectrum Sharing with a series of presentations and exciting discussions.  

In this highly anticipated workshop, the UK SPF brought together industry and government to present their views on the opportunities and challenges to advance spectrum sharing in the UK. With several perspectives, the workshop took a deep dive into the questions that currently surround this topic. 

Regulatory policy 

Government and Ofcom are particularly interested in the future of TN-NTN. The exam question is how the different industry agents think it could work, what are the challenges and the policy implications of advancing spectrum sharing.  

This environment has been growing at a fast pace with the increase in satellite deployment and the use of different orbits, alongside the prospective capabilities from High Altitude Platform Stations/IMT Base Stations (HAPS/HIBS) and drones.  

There is a consensus that sharing between TN-NTN should be considered as one of the ways forward in optimizing the use of spectrum. Nevertheless, the saring of spectrum between different service operators introduces trade-offs for all types of NTN.

  • Coverage 

  • Capacity  

  • Latency  

  • Flexibility

  • Cost 

  • Target Market 

All things considered, non-terrestrial networks can advance deployment across a range of spectrum bands and support several user devices.

Developments in spectrum sharing  

The industry speakers offered perspectives on sharing for IMT spectrum and 5G rollout, along with future objectives for 6G and standards from 3GPP. The challenges identified lead to two policy approaches, either complimentary or competitive. However, that division raises a few technical questions. 

On the competitive side, the sector requires a decision around the type of environment to explore using terrestrial spectrum and to manage coexistence. On the complementary approach, the relevant questions aim at setting the regulatory solutions and correct mechanisms.  

As technology challenges are being overcome and the sector feels more confident of the possibilities around spectrum sharing, direct-to-handset and other alternatives are being deployed to increase data rates. Although not a new concept, coexistence between traditional networks and adjacent satellite services outlines the challenges for spectrum sharing.  

Direct-to-device satellite services, for instance, favours a complimentary approach to address gaps in ground coverage. Nevertheless, spectrum capacity is below the industry’s expectations, demanding a roundup of ideas to achieve coexistence.  

HAPS also favours a complimentary landscape. Considering that HAPS aircrafts are still in development and the current goal is to support terrestrial networks’ spectrum demand, there is a lot of room for improvement in that space as technologies advance and new investment is attracted to the field.  

Coexistence debate 

It was largely agreed that the sector still has a lot of doubts before solving the key challenges around spectrum sharing. Members echoed the idea that a competitive approach would be controversial and prone to create interference. Although developments in D2D satellite service would complement terrestrial IMT coverage, the industry still needs to perform further studies to identify solutions to interference.  

Within the complementarity debate, coexistence spurs other set of questions regarding end user accessibility and hard to reach areas. The use of HAPS to supply 3G, LTE/4G, and 5G to remote areas involves concerns about compatibility with consumer devices, power supply, and coverage area. On the other hand, the link between HAPS and satellites enables the move of large data sets at low latency and high-speed, particularly helpful for direct-to-device services. 

There are still challenges around innovation that require industry-wide coordination to solve current issues. It goes back to regulatory questions that impact the entire spectrum value chain and demand a comprehensive view to address the more complex questions.  



If you have any questions, please contact the team below. 


Sophie Greaves

Sophie Greaves

Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy, techUK

Sophie Greaves is Head of Programme for Communications Infrastructure and Services at techUK, and oversees the UK Spectrum Policy Forum.

Sophie was promoted to Head having been Programme Manager for Communications Infrastructure and Services, leading techUK's telecoms activities, engagement and policy development. Previously, Sophie was Programme Assistant across a variety of areas including the Broadband Stakeholder Group, Central Government, Financial Services and Communications Infrastructure programmes.

Prior to joining techUK, Sophie completed a masters in Film Studies at University College London; her dissertation examined US telecoms policy relating to net neutrality and content distribution.

[email protected]
020 7331 2038

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Tales Gaspar

Tales Gaspar

Programme Manager, UK SPF and Satellite, techUK

Tales has a background in law and economics, with previous experience in the regulation of new technologies and infrastructure.

In the UK and Europe, he offered consultancy on intellectual property rights of cellular and IoT technologies and on the regulatory procedures at the ITU as a Global Fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI).

Tales has an LL.M in Law and Business by the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV) and an MSc in Regulation at the London School of Economics, with a specialization in Government and Law.

[email protected]
+44 (0) 0207 331 2000

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Matthew Wild

Programme Assistant - Markets, techUK

Matthew joined techUK in August 2023 as a Programme Assistant, supporting the Communications Infrastructure programme, as well as the Digital Connectivity and Spectrum Policy Fora.

Before joining techUK, Matthew worked in marketing, data, and events across a number of sectors, including education and consumer goods. He studied German and Dutch at University College London and the Universiteit van Amsterdam.

[email protected]
020 7331 2000

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