UK to release 500MHz of publicly owned spectrum

The Department for Culture Media and Sport has announced plans to free up 500 MHz of publicly held spectrum over the next 10 years, to cope with demand from the rise in mobile communications.

A paper released today states how the government will seek to provide the private sector with a significant amount.

“This is a long-term project to ensure industry is able to meet the growing demand for services that need spectrum,” said Communications Minister Ed Vaizey.

“The use of smartphones and mobile broadband is set to increase rapidly. Releasing more spectrum over the next decade will be essential if industry is to meet that growing demand.

“We must ensure the public sector uses this valuable resource as efficiently as possible. If the public sector does not need it, then it should be released so businesses can use it to grow.”

It had been announced as part of the Spending Review that the government would seek to dish out 500 MHz of the most useful broadband under the 5GHz bandwidth which can be used for mobile networks and the like.

Spectrum above this is generally only used for space and satellite communications and for David Icke to keep in touch with his intergalactic chums.

According to DCMS demand for spectrum at sub-5 GHz frequencies is growing and it is “critical for innovation and growth that they are used as efficiently as possible”.

At the moment the plans are only at the stage of identifying possible areas to free up spectrum, of which DCMS believes the government holds over of the best frequencies, with the Ministry of Defence looking at the 2310-2390 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz bands.

Three other bands at 2700-3100 MHz, 3100-3400 MHz and 4400-5000 MHz are also being looked at for further investigation, with a further five bands above the 1 GHz mark and five below that could potentially help push towards the 500 MHz target.

The department acknowledged that extensive work still lies ahead in how services which currently occupy some of these bandwidths will be moved to another spectrum band.