News Installation

Ofcom 800MHz band plan could net multi-billion windfall

test 17 March 2009

UK: Ranelagh International is continuing to highlight PMSE’s spectrum requirements as “crunch-time” approaches, writes David Davies. Available to read in full on the Ofcom website, the latest document on the future of the 800MHz band – issued in the wake of a new consultation paper in early February – suggests that the net incremental benefit of clearing channels 61, 62 and 69 “lies conservatively in the range of _2-3bn”.

The finding is likely to be welcome news to a UK government grappling with seemingly open-ended economic turmoil and a devastated financial sector. The UK PMSE sector, however, will be less enthusiastic; its home following the reallocation has yet to be confirmed, although channel 38 is regarded as the most probable destination.

Lower equipment costs, fewer restrictions on spectrum use and increased competition are among the benefits of the 800MHz reallocation cited in the latest Ofcom missive, which was presented by Ofcom spectrum policy group director of operations Matthew Conway (pictured) at the Digital Switchover Strategies Conference ’09, which took place last month at London’s Cavendish Conference Centre.

PSNE sister title TVBEurope was one of the media sponsors, and its latest coverage of the conference can be accessed here and here.

Placed in the context of recent developments, the latest document appears to reinforce Ofcom’s intention to pursue the reallocation of the 800MHz band, in line with the plans of many other European countries. The end-result is likely to be a pan-European IMT (international mobile telecommunications) band.

The consultation paper issued at the beginning of February (and covered by PSN-e here) remains open to responses until April 20. Ofcom is expected to publish a further statement on the issue this summer.

Meanwhile, political and parliamentary consultancy firm Ranelagh International is continuing to highlight the implications of the spectrum changes for PMSE users. “BEIRG has arranged to meet with Ofcom in the very near-future to discuss these issues and is currently putting together its responses to the 800MHz consultation,” Ranelagh’s Alun Rees tells PSN-e. “On the parliamentary side, Peter Luff MP – who is chairman of the Business and Enterprise Select Committee and has spearheaded the PMSE campaign – raised PMSE issues with Lord Carter, communications minister, at a public evidence session this Tuesday. Don Foster MP, Liberal Democrat culture secretary, has also tabled two parliamentary questions this week, to which we look forward to receiving responses.

“Rest assured that BEIRG will continue to do all it can to ensure that Ofcom and the government do what is best for the PMSE sector. We will not take our foot off the pedal; as it is coming to crunch-time, the lobbying activities are increasingly important.”


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