The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced that it intends to open up some military frequency bands for new sharing opportunities for public and private sector users.
The move is part of the UK Government's plans to release 500 MHz of spectrum below 5 GHz by 2020. This is in addition to releases at 2310 - 2400 and 3410 - 3600 MHz that the MoD is planning to take to market in 2013/14 and 2015/16 respectively.
The MoD said in a statement: ‘All sharing requests will be considered and where appropriate, technical assessments will be conducted to ascertain whether sharing is possible. If feasible, negotiations will take place between MoD and the customer to establish the commercial terms and conditions and regulatory constraints. Where an agreement is reached, MoD will request Ofcom to initiate the process to grant a Wireless Telegraphy Act licence to the customer to enable them to use the spectrum.’
3500 – 3580 MHz
The MoD has identified 3500 - 3580 MHz for short term sharing opportunities from 3 Nov 2011, which along with some spectrum between 3410 - 3480 MHz, is due to be released in 2015/2016. Additional spectrum at 3410 - 3480 MHz may become available for sharing in 2012/13. No licences granted for shared use will be extended beyond March 2015.
The MoD said it is committed to supporting London 2012 Olympics, therefore, applicants should be aware that sharing opportunities within Olympic areas will be unlikely until Oct 2012.
The MoD is also considering offering limited access to the bands below:
870-872 / 915-917MHz
1427 - 1452MHz
2025 - 2070MHz
4800 - 4900MHz
10 - 10.125GHz
The MoD is asking potential bidders to register their interest by 16 December 2011, so it can assess the demand for these bands. Interested parties need to email the MoD with details of the bands, general description of requirement and dates from which bidders would potentially require access. The MoD will then determine, in early 2012, whether to open up these bands for sharing.
More details can be found on the MoD website here:
Almost 50 per cent of available UK spectrum below 5 Ghz is currently held by the public sector, including the MoD and emergency services.
Alastair Davidson, managing director of Government, Mobile and Enterprise at communications infrastructure and media services company Arqiva, commented: ‘Spectrum is the lifeblood of the digital economy and we believe there will be enormous economic and personal benefits if the public sector makes its spectrum more widely available. So we're encouraged to see the MoD releasing some of its valuable spectrum and seeking expressions of interest in other bands.
‘As the MoD have announced today, releasing spectrum in a band that's harmonised across Europe for wireless broadband could prove hugely significant, not least for the Government’s 2 Mbps universal broadband commitment. However, we're concerned that only making this spectrum available until March 2015 in the first instance will reduce its value for critical government initiatives like delivering broadband to rural communities and we urge the MoD to reconsider.
‘There is an immediate need for spectrum and we welcome this move by the MoD. But releasing spectrum on a short term lease - with the promise of an auction in 2015 - won't allow operators to take advantage of it now. They won't be able to see a return on their network investment, or give long term security to end users, in only three years.’