UK SPF Reports: Key insights into future spectrum policy
Three new reports launched today by the industry-led sounding board to UK Government and Ofcom, UK Spectrum Policy Forum (UK SPF), provide policymakers with a helpful baseline and insight into key spectrum management challenges and opportunities in the years ahead.
The first of the three UK SPF studies examines the future of the 470-694 MHz band in a world of rapid change in both the linear TV and mobile broadband markets and presents a suite of four options for the future policy and regulatory maker. The four identified scenarios are as follows:
- Scenario 1 ‘Status Quo’
- Scenario 2 ‘Flexible Use’
- Scenario 3 ‘IMT600 band plan’
- Scenario 4 ‘Transition to IPTV’
The study aims to contribute to the overall discussion and preparations of the World Radiocommunication Conference next year (WRC-23), where the discussions on the future of the UHF band might lead to further policy actions in Europe, Africa and Middle East under Agenda Item 1.5.
A second study examined the feasibility of accommodating future 6G services in the spectrum range 7 - 24 GHz. This would contend with the demand for fixed links, satellite services, military, maritime and radionavigation, and science services.
The study found no sufficiently large contiguous spectrum likely to be available for 6G services. This, however, presents a huge opportunity for UK stakeholders and the research community, to develop exciting new mechanisms and tools to leverage better spectrum efficiency and embrace more spectrum sharing.
Third, a milestone independent review of mobile spectrum market mechanisms released today by the UK SPF challenges deeply held beliefs by policymakers in the market approach to spectrum policy.
The results show that none of the three market mechanism tools (namely annual licence fees, spectrum auctions and spectrum trading) as optimal anymore and find that spectrum pricing is actually no longer needed.
These conclusions confirm there is a strong case to adapt and modernise all market mechanisms so that scarce mobile spectrum can drive wider economic growth across the UK.
We are delighted to see UK SPF releasing, for the first time, three reports simultaneously on future spectrum policy. We hope the outcome of this work will help policymakers to have a full picture of the most pressing questions in the current spectrum landscape, such as the future of the UHF band, licensing of public networks or potential spectrum considerations for 6G
Access to radio spectrum is essential for new technology advances to reach fruition in the wireless sector. These reports highlight the breadth of new challenges and opportunities in the sector to inform the regulator and government as how to best navigate the future spectrum management regime to maximise the social and economic value of radio waves.