Ofcom’s Justin Moore discusses effective spectrum management #TTW

As the UK’s telecommunications regulator; Ofcom has the important task of ensuring fairness, equality, and all-round efficient management when handling spectrum. The market is as hungry as ever for more data-consumption; therefore capacity is one of the main talking points.

Speaking at Telecoms Tech World in London; Justin Moore, Principal Policy Advisor at Ofcom, enlightens us to the stats which point at a 10 petabyte increase in daily usage.

According to research by Cisco; we can expect a 9x increase in usage by 2017 – nearly three years from now. By 2030, we’re looking at a barely comprehensible 80x. Can you feel the pressure mobile operators are under? How can they prepare to deal with this influx?

Justin treats us to the three basic principles; more spectrum, more efficient technology, and more sites. Away from cellular reliance; there’s also offloading to Wi-Fi.

Last year Ofcom opened up the 800MHz spectrum to auction in use for LTE technologies, which was won (controversially) by Orange and T-Mobile partnership, Everything Everywhere. Many criticised the decision for the months of advantage this placed EE over the competition.

Still, it’s a complicated field full of bureaucracy, as Justin states: “In spectrum, things can take a long time to have a major change…”

He continues: “The global level of harmonisation is a critical, but time-consuming process.”

In the preparation stages, when looking at opening up new bands, the benefits and pitfalls are considered deeply. Some of the major barriers revolve around cost, and around constraints…

There are two main types of these constraints; domestic, and international. Domestic could be the question: “Have we got millions of license exempt users?” Whereas international could be facing issues such as spectrum used for military purposes, air traffic control, or other restricted uses.

Many tasks are already “in-progress” for Ofcom; the first of which is the release of the low-frequency 700MHz band. There is also talks about the ex-military 2.3GHz and 2.4GHz high-frequency bands being opened up. Whilst White Space, used for testing, such as the UHF signal used by TV - could be made available for sharing.

After these are complete, or reach a final-decision, Justin has given us a look at the roadmap of priorities based on urgency.

The highest is the release of the following spectrums;

  • 1452MHz – 1492 MHz
  • 1980MHz – 2010 MHz
  • 2170MHz – 2200 MHz

Following these and given a “Medium-High” priority are the following;

  • 2.7GHz – 2.9GHz
  • 3.8GHz – 3.9GHz

Do you think Ofcom is putting focus in the right areas to help operators deal with the rising demand on their networks in the future?

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