Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spectrum & wireless developments


Lots of spectrum and wireless updates recently, over and above Ofcom's announcement earlier this month of the final regulations and timetable for the 4G mobile spectrum auction.

DCMS has published a new report (news item here) on the impact of radio spectrum on the UK economy, which found its use is worth more than £50 billion a year. Coverage from ISP Review here and the FT here ("Value of spectrum up 25% in five years").

Ofcom has published plans "to enable the release of new airwaves for future generations of mobile devices, which will help meet consumers’ growing demand for data on the move" (press release here and further information for consumers here). According to Ofcom, 20 million Gigabytes of data is now being consumed in a month over the country’s mobile networks – more than twice as much as last year (9 million Gigabytes) -  the equivalent of downloading 5 billion music tracks. By 2030, demand for mobile data could be 80 times higher than today. Ofcom is preparing plans now to support the release of spectrum for future mobile services, possibly ‘5G’, when the spectrum becomes available. Coverage from ISP Review here and the BBC here.

The ITU has also published a new report on spectrum (Digital Dividend: insights for spectrum decisions, press release here) focussing on the benefits arising from freeing up spectrum by moving TV broadcasting from analogue to digital, a process now complete in the UK.

Ireland recently completed its 4G spectrum auction, with the winning bids much higher than had been anticipated. According to the FT ("Ireland’s 4G auction exceeds expectations"), "Ireland has sold its 4G high-speed mobile-phone spectrum to four existing operators for €855m in an auction that netted more cash than expected for its heavily indebted government. Vodafone, Telef√≥nica, Meteor and Three all won significant slices of spectrum in a competition, which shares many similarities with the UK’s 4G auction due to begin early next year." More from Ireland's regulator ComReg here and here.

A recent decision from the European Commission "paves the way for 4G in Europe":
"The European Commission has today decided to add another 120 MHz to the radio spectrum portfolio for 4G technologies, such as LTE (Long Term Evolution), around the 2 GHz band. This band is currently solely used for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) wireless communications, known as 3G networks. The Decision makes it mandatory for Member States to open the relevant spectrum by 30 June 2014 at the latest, and lays down harmonised technical conditions to allow coexistence between different technologies. On this basis the EU will enjoy up to twice the amount of spectrum for high speed wireless broadband as in the United States, namely around 1000 MHz. The Commission's decision means mobile operators will have more opportunities to invest in improved mobile networks, which benefits the whole economy, and consumers will, over time, enjoy faster data transfers and more broadband services."
Coverage from ISP Review here and ThinkBroadband here. Finally, some speculation from ISP Review and ThinkBroadband about future white space technology possibilities.

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