The two blocks of spectrum are currently held by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and it is reelasing the spectrum back to Ofcom for civilian use. The two blocks are: -
- 40 MHz of spectrum within the 2.3 GHz band (2350-2390 MHz)
- 150 MHz of spectrum within the 3.4 GHz band (3410-3480 MHz and 3500-3580 MHz)
Though likely to be offered on a technology neutral basis, it is expected that there will be high interest from mobile operators wishing to use the spectrum for high power 4G (LTE) services.
Ofcom has viewed the interference issues assuming the bands will be used for LTE.
The 2.3GHz band has potential to interfere with the adjacent 2.4GHz band (2400 to 2483.5 MHz) which is used by Bluetooth, WiFi and Zigbee. Though Ofcom has ascertained there is a slight risk (mainly to WiFi, just due to the number of WiFi access points in use), often interference issues can be minimised by moving equipment away from windows or near the outside of buildings. Moving WiFi to use the 5GHz band mean there is no interference at all.
The 2.3GHz band release will cause issues for Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) and will reduce the number of channels available. However PMSE is expected to move to the 7GHz band which will become the 'home' for PMSE services.
Current PMSE services can continue to operate in the 3.4GHz band, until such time that the 3.4GHz is actually deployed in specific areas.
Ofcom hopes to release the spectrum in 2015.