The Government has today launched a consultation to implement a series of recommendations regarding how mobile spectrum should be reallocated, according to the proposals made by independent spectrum broker Kip Meek (pictured) in May.
Meek’s proposals covered 3G licenses and spectrum auctions.
According to Meek’s recommendations, the Government would move to making the 3G licence term indefinite, which would encourage greater investment in 3G services. The report claims this would increase 3G coverage to 90 per cent of the UK population. Networks would be charged an annual spectrum fee from 2021.
The Government is to work with Ofcom to free-up the 800MHz spectrum, that will be released through the switchover to digital television, as soon as possible.
It will also co-ordinate an auction of 2.6Ghz and 800Mhz spectrum to take place as soon as possible, to enable the networks to build the spectrum portfolios needed to provide next generation services and fulfil the Digital Britain commitment of universal coverage.
It would also introduce short-term spectrum caps to allow all networks to bid for different bands of spectrum, encourage a better competitive environment and prevent a spectrum monopoly among the networks.
Also, networks that acquire 800MHz or end up with reallocated 900MHz spectrum to deliver mobile broadband to rural areas and ‘hard-to-reach’ areas.
The Government would also look to allow a separate auction of a portion of the 2.6GHz spectrum in early 2010, should the combined auction be delayed by Ofcom, to allow for the deployment of WiMax technologies
The Government would cap auction results as follows:
- a temporary cap on overall mobile suitable spectrum holding per operator at two 65MHz blocks
- a second temporary cap on the current holders of sub 1GHz spectrum of two 17.5 MHz blocks. Any bid by them for additional sub-1GHz spectrum at 800MHz that is successful will require the holder to relinquish an amount of 900MHz spectrum equivalent to the amount of spectrum that is acquired
- a third temporary cap on overall 2G spectrum, so that an entity who has more than two 25MHz blocks and who acquires additional spectrum in the combined auction, will be required to relinquish two 5MHz blocks of spectrum into the auction.
Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms said: “Digital Britain is the Government’s vision for creating a world-class digital infrastructure boosting jobs, growth and competitiveness.
“To realise that vision it’s vital that we make the best use of the digital spectrum and ensure that sufficient bandwidth is available for sophisticated next generation services, and not just calls and texts.
“This package will free up the airwaves for the expansion of wireless and 3G services, increasing their reach to consumers and businesses across as much as 90 per cent of the country, including rural communities.
“I would also like to thank Kip Meek who has had to weigh up very complex issues in producing a report which marks a clear way forward.”
The Government now intends to implement Meek’s proposals through a directive to Ofcom. Industry stakeholders are invited to put forward their views ahead of the deadline of January 8, 2010.