UK communications regulator Ofcom provided an update on its strategic review of UHF bands 1 and 2 at the FCS London regional Business Radio meeting last week (13 June 2013).
It also provided an update on spectrum release between 143MHz and 156MHz and secondary usage possibilities for Band 1 (55MHz – 68MHz) and Low Band (68MHz – 87.5MHz).
Reviewing the current situation for UHF Bands 1 and 2, Paul Jarvis, head of business radio at Ofcom, noted that the major cities are causing the main problem as the available spectrum for business radio users ‘is pretty much full’.
He said there is pressure on spectrum resources as there is an increasing demand for digital technologies and that there is some demand for wider bandwidth systems, although not necessarily broadband.
Javis noted: ‘UHF 1 (425MHz – 450MHz) is constrained for civil use in some geographic locations and is considered a UK2 (military) band, but with co-primary access in geo exclusion zones for land mobile with some zones overlapping.’
He added that all stations around the UK require Fylingdales coordination of up to 3,000 nautical miles with ‘total’ exclusion of all services in UHF 1in certain geographic zones.
In the UHF 2 (450-470MHz) band, Jarvis pointed out that only one third of the bandwidth is available for private mobile radio (PMR) use. There are very limited opportunities to get 10MHz spacing, but this could be reviewed he pointed out. Other occupants of the frequency range include public safety, scanning telemetry and licence exempt equipment.
Jarvis said that in order for the UK to meet the CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) alignment plan for the both UHF bands, it will mean reversing the UK band plan so that the base transmit occupies the higher frequency of a duplex pairing and try to accommodate a 10MHz duplex split.
The options for Ofcom include:
- Re-planning of the band
- Suggesting 25% availability with a view to increasing the level of sharing
- More precise engineering to match coverage to the actual need
- Use more efficient technology
- Ensure the spectrum configuration is optimised.
Spectrum release between 143 and 156MHz
Kevin Delaney, spectrum policy and planning manager at Ofcom, advised delegates at the FCS London regional Business Radio event about Ofcom’s intention to release spectrum between 143 and 156MHz. Looking at the potential use for the spectrum he listed a number of items for consideration:
- Allocate 2 x 1MHz for a spectrum award
- Cater for the increasing demand for PMR data services
- Cater for the increasing demand for PMR spectrum for critical national infrastructure
- Provision of spectrum for amateur radio
- Safeguard the ‘Safety for Life’ frequency (156.0MHz) used by ships and provide spectrum for land search and rescue
- Talkback frequency for special events (such as Formula 1 racing)
- Facilitate licence exempt use as a companion service to PMR 446.
Update on Band 1 (55MHz – 68MHz) and Low Band (68MHz – 87.5MHz)
This project is looking at the issues involved with permitting secondary usage on
spectrum within Band 1 (55MHz – 68MHz) and Low Band (68MHz – 87.5MHz), in particular to determine those sectors that can utilise the spectrum. However, primary use of the spectrum will be retained by PMR.
Delaney noted that only 5% of Band 1 is licensed and that the spectrum ‘is not loved by the PMR community’, although the water industry uses it for telemetry. However, 66% of Low Band 68MHz – 87.5MHz is licensed.
Consultation will be out in July 2013 with statements in response due back in September. Spectrum allocation will take place in October.