The Government has published its final Digital Britain report, in which, the future of the 800MHz spectrum is laid out. Part of this frequency band is channel 69, used by Program Making and Special Events (PMSE) and on which, current wireless radio technology operates.
The previous Digital Britain Report proposed a Spectrum Modernisation Programme that included the release and auctioning of the 800MHz band. The Government appointed an independent spectrum broker to facilitate a solution. His report was published in May and the Government now accepts the essentials of this report, namly, swift clearance of the 800MHz spectrum band and auction of 10MHz blocks of spectrum.
The final report noted: “There is a role for Government intervention in releasing new radio spectrum for a rapid roll out of mobile 'Long Term Evolution' (LTE) networks (requiring early release of the 800 MHz auction), ensuring the balance of radio spectrum holdings optimises network competition and extracting the best infrastructure deal for the country in terms of universal coverage."
The Government insists that the 800MHz auction (the ‘Big Auction’) should take place at the earliest practicable date – the Government understands this to be mid 2010 – and that this is crucial for the continued development of mobile technology.
The report also revealed that the Government intends to support Ofcom in taking all practical measures to expedite the clearance of 800MHz. It believes that the extra costs incurred in accelerating the clearance of channels 61 and 62 of television usage and channel 69 of PMSE usage would serve to increase the value of the spectrum at auction.Article continues below
It said: "The Government is committed to the timely release of 800 spectrum and will work with Ofcom to understand and meet the technical challenges. It has already endorsed Ofcom’s proposal setting out its plans to clear channels 61, 62 and 69. The Government will facilitate this re-planning and will meet the costs incurred by broadcasters and PMSE users as a result of these changes."