28/07/2005

Ofcom Website | Award of available spectrum: 1781.7-1785 MHz paired with 1876.7-1880 MHz

Ofcom Website | Award of available spectrum: 1781.7-1785 MHz paired with 1876.7-1880 MHz

This covers two sections of spectrum (known as the GSM guard bands) and it seems Ofcom have wimped out, initially it looked like they might offer the spectrum on a license exempt basis but they've gone for the auction approach.

There will be between 5 and 10 national licenses (depending on how the bidding goes, and the consultation now in operation) with a reserve price of £50,000. Licensees will have to cooperate in terms of interfering with each other (there will be no protection against other licensees) but what a licensee does with the spectrum is up to them. There are limitations in terms of power (23 dB per carrier with a GSM mask).

It's likely that the existing GSM operators will bid, so that realistically only leaves between 1 and 6 licenses available to other parties, but since they're sealed bids, they could go to anyone. Ofcom will try to ensure there is no unfair bidding or collusion between bidders. Unfortunately £50,000+ puts bidding in the realm of larger players and smaller operations are likely to be scared away. Spectrum trading will be allowed, but only for reselling the license in total.

The technology is suitable for operating in-buiding (or localised) pico cells, but could be used for other purposes such as wireless broadband etc.

There will be possible interference in areas by the MoD, but licensees will have to live with it.

It's a shame Ofcom didn't make the bands license exempt (with strict licensing in terms of the radio parts i.e. specifying GSM only type equipment) as that would have allowed organisations to install their own GSM pico cells in their own buildings using kit from vendors such as IP.Access who make a self-contained pico cell for about £2,000 (there would be other GSM equipment required, but this could have been a shared resource).
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