UK: CEO Matthew Griffiths (pictured) expects the trade association to submit a formal application this autumn, writes David Davies. At the time of writing, PLASA is one of three organisations to have expressed an interest in applying for the role of band manager with "special obligations" to PMSE (performance making & special events) users.
The two other organisations to have registered an interest thus far are radio spectrum management and interference analysis tools specialist Transfinite Systems, and communications licensing company ASP FM. All three have declared an interest in applying following the September 7 conclusion of the second consultation on the detailed design of the band manager award.
The search for a PMSE-related band manager forms part of Ofcom's long-running Digital Dividend Review. Formally launched in 2005, the DDR aims to determine the future of UK spectrum access post-digital switchover and has significant implications for the users of wireless audio systems, who are expected to lose access to the 800MHz band.
Following an initial band manager consultation in 2008, the second consultation document includes further detailed proposals for how Ofcom expects the band manager to behave towards PMSE users. Among other requirements, band manager applicants will need to "offer commitments in relation to making spectrum available to PMSE users on FRND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) terms and conditions". Ofcom says that it will also subject any request by the band manager to allow non-PMSE use of spectrum awarded to it to "rigorous scrutiny".
With the eventual spectrum allocation of PMSE users still uncertain, the successful band manager candidate - likely to be appointed in spring 2010 - will carry a heavy burden of expectation.
"As a not-for-profit trade organisation, we have been encouraged by the industry to declare an interest," PLASA CEO Matthew Griffiths tells PSN-e. "A lot of our members are affected by the changes going on in terms of spectrum and radio microphone usage. We would aim to serve as a band manager who would understand the concerns of PMSE users, and work on both their and Ofcom's behalf."
Griffiths adds that he expects the organisation to submit a formal application this autumn, but does not rule out joining forces with other possible applicants should it be "in the interests of the industry".
Meanwhile, ASP FM MD Brian Copsey says that his company would be able to call on 20 years of radio licensing experience in the UK and beyond. "I have looked at what they are trying to achieve, and I do not think it is very different from what we have been involved with in the past," he observes.
Summing up, Ofcom director of operations Matthew Conway tells PSN-e that the communications regulator looks forward to "stakeholders' responses to our second consultation on the band manager award. Getting the details right is essential to establishing the right conditions for future PMSE spectrum access and encouraging high quality applications to be the band manager itself. We are encouraged that a number of parties have already expressed serious interest in participating in the award."