Ofcom allows high power PMSE devices

Ofcom, the Super Regulator that deals with radio and broadcasting (amongst other things) has published a statement on the use of high power devices for Program making and special events (PMSE).

Before the digital switchover devices such as radio mikes and other PMSE devices could use channel 69 (which lies in 800MHz) and their licenses expired at the end of 2012. However Ofcom is continuing to allow their use until this spectrum is awarded to a new licensee after the current 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum auctions end (the award is expect by March 2013).

Ofcom allocated channel 38 for PMSE devices (606 - 614 MHz), but only for low power devices (under 50mW EIRP), now Ofcom is also allowing higher power devices (up 10 10W EIRP) to operate in the lower 2 channels (within channel 38), i.e. 606.7 MHz and 607 MHz.

Most PMSE is low power use (such as radio mikes), however outdoor events such as golf or other sporting activities can use higher power. Ofcom has performed a risk analysis and found that the possibility of interference with other low power devices (which can use another channel) or neighbouring services is minimal.

The statement is available here and stakeholders can respond on-line.


Ofcom proposes new DTT multiplex in 600MHz

Ofcom the super regulator that covers many operations including broadcasting and spectrum allocations is proposing to open up the 600MHz band for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) broadcasts. The 600MHz band is actually made up of frequencies from 550-606 MHz in 8MHz channels (known as channels 31 to 37). This band was cleared when the analogue transmission services were switched off.

The new DTT service will utilise DVB-T2 and MPEG4 which allows more spectral efficiencies than older DVB-T technology and MPEG4 compresses video more efficiently than MPEG2 which current non-DS DTT services use. Program making and special events (PMSE) services will still be allowed to reside in the band as will whitespace technology (this uses localised unused spectrum to offer wireless broadband/communication services).

Ofcom is acting in accordance with EU spectrum policy, whereby the current DTT services which operate in 700MHz should move to the 600MHz band and 700MHz will be used for wireless broadband services, though migration will not happen before 2018.

Thopugh this is a proactive mode for Ofcom, many set-top boxes built for DTT will not operate in 600MHz and new systems will have to be purchased.

Ofcom is proposing to make the license available immediately at a cost of £180,000 with a minimum period until 2018 but with a 12 month notice period so Ofcom can migrate current services into this band.

The consultation is available here and interested stakeholders may respond on-line.


Ofcom proposes to allow 4G on all 2G and 3G bands

Ofcom, the Super regulator, has opened a consultation to allow the liberalisation of all existing 2G and 3G bands so they can also be used for 4G (LTE) services.

This would mean O2 and Vodafone can refarm both their 900MHz 2G spectrum and their 2.1GHz 3G spectrum, EE (the combined entity of Orange and T-Mobile) have already started refarming of their 1800MHz spectrum, but they will be allowed to also refarm their 2.1GHz 3G spectrum. 3UK only have (currently) 2.1GHz 3G spectrum but will be able to refarm this and when EE transfer around 25% of their 1800MHz spectrum to 3UK they will also be allowed to use this for 4G (though this is not expected to happen until September 2013).

This is separate from any spectrum that is currently being auctioned (800MHz and 2.6GHz) though Ofcom has not yet announced who is bidding for what spectrum.

3UK have announced that when they launch 4G services, they will not differentiate on price between 4G and 3G services. The consultation is available here and interested stakeholders can respond on-line.