Ofcom has released a proposal for the UK’s largest single release of radio spectrum, to be auctioned.
It’s not the auction itself, but a consultation document seeking views on a proposal to auction licences – if that isn’t long-winded enough.
Initially 215MHz of frequency will be made available, with a plan to release 400MHz in total in the ‘next few years.’
Ofcom’s approach is not to dictate what the released frequencies are to be used for, or even the technology that should be used to operate on it. Once auctioned off, they plan to let it be used for whatever the bidder chooses for it.
Their suggested uses include:
* mobile broadband wireless services, offering high-speed, high-capacity mobile data connections using technologies such as WiMAX;
* mobile multimedia services, such as mobile television;
* advanced mobile services using technologies such as UMTS and its evolutions; and
* mobile broadcast, such as wireless cameras for outside broadcasts and temporary or portable video links.
They believe that the spectrum could be released by the end of 2007 although this is subject to on-going EU regulatory discussions. All licences are proposed to be tradable – this is key.
It’s likely that frequencies like this will be bought by a major player, who can then either use it all themselves (unlikely) or re-sell it, as a wholesaler would, to smaller organisations. It’s a pretty radical approach in the world of frequency regulation.
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said, “Releasing more spectrum to the market will create new opportunities for innovation in wireless technologies, promoting competition and driving convergence.”
Ofcom’s suggestion is to release the spectrum though two separate auctions.
* The bands 2500-2690 MHz, 2010-2025 MHz will be packaged into a number of lots and auctioned together. Participants will be able to bid for multiple lots. The auction will be conducted online using a secure server and there will be a number of rounds to the auction.
* The bands 2290-2300 MHz will be packaged as a single lot and auctioned though a sealed bid process.
Better get started counting your pennies and getting your responses together. You’ve got until 9 March 2007 to get your comments in.