12/04/2010

UK Election delays spectrum auction again

The Government managed to push through the controversial Digital Economy Bill, but in doing so failed to make time for things such as spectrum liberalisation and these will now have to wait until the next Government is in power.


This means that the plans to auction the 2.6GHz (2600MHz) band are still on hold until at least mid 2011 (or later) as well the prized 800MHz band. There is also no decision with respect to GSM refarming (O2 and Vodafone have spectrum in 900MHz and Orange and T-Mobile in 1.8GHz). The situation is already muddied by the merge of T-Mobile and Orange who as a single company have too much spectrum (as per the original licenses).

It's likely that T-Mobile/Orange will have to relinquish some of their 1.8GHz spectrum and maybe some of their 2.5GHz spectrum, but they will also fight to get hold of some of the 900HMz spectrum (which has much better transmission characteristics than 1.8GHz).

As there is no Government at all, the above decisions are all on hold, though T-Mobile/Orange are now in breach of their license conditions, there's nothing that can be done until the next Government is elected and Ofcom can then propose changes in the law (i.e. currently the GSM bands are ONLY allowed to be used for GSM services and not 3G services) which will then be enacted into law by the use of Standard Instruments.

The UK was way ahead of the market when it first proposed auctioning the 2.6GHz spectrum (2007/2008) but now even Germany has sorted it's issues and has licensed the band.
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