14/07/2006

Ofcom statement on 412-414MHz paired with 422-424MHz

Ofcom is going to auction off the spectrum in the 412-414MHz paired with 422-424MHz band.

The 2MHz pair is being broken down into 4 bands of 0.5MHz each (412.0 - 412.5 and 422.0 - 422.5 MHz, etc) known as a, b, c and d.

Any bidder can try for any combination of a, b, c and d, which works out at 15 combinations. Each combination costs £50,000 per sub-band as a minimum fee (so a bid for just 'a' will cost £50,000, with 'a+b' £100,000 etc). It is a sealed bid auction and Ofcom will go through the bid process depending on the number of bidders.

Any bidders must coordinate with RAF Flyingdales as they also use this band for their radars (and have priority). There is a 40Km exclusion zone around the base.

Though the licenses are application neutral, it's expected that they will be used for communications services.

The award process will commence in the week beginning 11 September 2006. Ofcom expects that the application date will be Thursday, 14 September 2006.

Legalising the use of low power FM transmitters for MP3 players

Ofcom is proposing to license excempt lower power FM transmitters for use with MP3 and other audio devices.

This is a complete turn-around as previously this has been a completely no go area. Maybe it's got something to do with there now being a European standard for such devices, which means the EU support them as a whole.

Ofcom are also proposing to make CB radio license excempt and also support Community Audio Distribution systems. They will also make the 169.4 -169.8125 MHz band available for lower power transmissions such as hearing aids, alarms and tracking systems.

This all comes under the Wireless Telegraphy Exemption Regulations 2003, which attempts to maximise the use of the congested spectrum.

The consultation finishes on 22nd Sept 2006 and Ofcom hope to make is all possible in December.

12/07/2006

Ofcom considering raising power limits in License Excempt bands

Ofcom has today issued a consultation on raising the power limits on the 2.4GHz band and the 5.8GHz lightly licensed band.

There are MOD users in 5.8GHz, but there is an EU directive which proposes to raise the power limit from 2W EIRP to 4W EIRP and Ofcom will comply with the recommendation and see no other changes from how it current operates.

Ofcom are considering raising the limit on 2.4GHz to 10W, this is a considerable increase as the current limit is 100mW EIRP.

They are considering 3 options: -

* Allow the increased power anywhere i.e. no geographic consideration.

* Allow the increased power in rural areas where effects are minimised. Devices would be required to be location aware and only transmit at higher powers if they were in appropriate areas.

* Allow increased power in all but large and major urban conurbations. Devices wouldn't need to be location aware, but there would be a mandatory registration scheme and users would need to adhere to a code so interference issues were minimised.

This could give a much need boost to broadband services utilising both bands, but this completely ignores the health risks as 2.4GHz is the frequency microwave ovens use and 10W though low power could have significant health risks.

Music Industry wants to "tax" distribution channels

AIM and various other music bodies held a press conference to introduce their new concept of "A value recognition right". Their view is that content is adding value to distribution channels like broadband, mobile phones, even Bluetooth and because it's adding value it should be licensable.

Arguments included that 60% of Internet traffic is Peer to Peer (initially they stated music P2P, but changed that to general P2P including services like Skype). People choose broadband because of music P2P, therefore they can license ISPs as part of the value add content chain.

Is it not the other way around, most people get broadband then find P2P easy to use, so use it?

Copy Levy (the relevent law) is really based on analogue and doesn't fit into the digital world, so they want to change the law so digital means charge the distribution players, not the consumer.

That's got to have something to do with the very bad press the music industry has got from suing private individuals, it's much easier to sue the broadband providers who are nasty big corporates and who cares about them? Except margins are so low in the broadband industry that having to pay music royalties etc may well criple the providers which will stifle an industry killing it instead of allowing it to grow and providing the digital economy that the government wants.

The industry are adament it's not a "stealth tax" - which of course it isn't, or maybe it is?

10/07/2006

Microsoft to release iPod'alike

It's rumoured MS are going to release a portable media player to rival the iPod, but it will have wireless networking so tracks can be downloaded straight into the unit.

They've already teamed up with MTV with a music site (Urgle), and the player will work with it.

Apple dominate the music download scene, both with the iTunes store and iPods.