First tranches of planned 500MHz release on the way
The UK’s Ministry of Defence has announced plans to sell blocks of spectrum at 2310-2400MHz and 3410-3600Mhz. The spectrum will be made available to the market in 2013/14 and 2015/16 respectively.
Until then, some of the spectrum will be made available on a short term lease basis, with spectrum between 3500-3580MHz made available for “short term” sharing. Interested parties are being asked to lease that spectrum in that block for the next three years, until it goes for sale in 2015/16. The MoD said that spectrum at 3480MHz may also become available for sharing on a lease basis in 2012/13. Spectrum sharing within Olympic areas will be “unlikely” until 2012, the MoD said.
The sale of spectrum is part of a stated government policy to free up and sell 500 MHz of spectrum below 5 GHz by 2020, with the goal of raising money for the UK Government.
The Ministry is also “considering offering” limited access in other bits and pieces of spectrum, at:
- 870-872 / 915-917 MHz
- 1427 – 1452 MHz
- 2025 – 2070 MHz
- 4800 – 4900 MHz
- 10 – 10.125 GHz
A Ministry spokesperson said that the MoD wants to gauge interest in these spectrum bands before proceeding with Ofcom clearance to start sharing. Those interested in these bands are requested to register interest by 16 December 2011.
Alastair Davidson, Managing Director of Government, Mobile and Enterprise at Arqiva, said that the spectrum release was a “step in the right direction” but questioned whether companies would see value in a three year lease of spectrum, without certainty they would gain ownership of those frequencies in the long term.
He pointed out that the band being made immediately available, 3500-3580 MHz is used for mobile broadband services in some parts of the world, so equipment is available, making these “potentially valuable bands”. But Davidson described the lease time frame as a “stop gap that is really not very helpful.”
The MoD’s spokesperson, however, said that there had already been commercial interest in rural and urban applications using the spectrum on the leased basis. “We’ve certainly had some interest, there’s a market for it,” the spokesperson said.