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Ofcom extends PMSE security of access

The communications regulator has extended security of future spectrum access for performance making & special events users to at least September 2021, with a five-year notice period - building on the original proposal of 2018 and no notice.

The UK communications regulator has concluded that there should be “improved security of tenure” for the performance making & special events (PMSE) community. Issued on 31 August, the new statement from Ofcom (whose chief executive is Ed Richards, pictured) is intended to help UK PMSE users to plan their future use of spectrum.

Among other points, the latest missive to be issued as part of the Digital Dividend Review confirms that 2290-2300 MHz is now available on a long-term basis, while there is also further assurance that the 800 MHz band will be open to PMSE users until at least 1 July 2012 UK-wide and 1 October 2012 in Northern Ireland, North East England and – in a move that seems intended to calm any lingering concerns about spectrum availability for the 2012 Olympic Games – London.

The new document – which can be read in full here – also outlines Ofcom’s approach to spectrum pricing and its aim to consult on new fees later this year. The regulator is also considering the possible introduction of “an element of temporal and geographic peak pricing” for occasions with a known scarcity of PMSE-accessible spectrum.

An Ofcom spokesperson tells PSNE: “How peak pricing might work in practice will be addressed in a consultation on end-user licence fees, which we expect to publish before the end of this year. However, our long-stated key objective of helping PMSE users to avoid significant disruption will remain.”

Significantly, the document also offers improved security-of-tenure provisions, noting that “these will last until at least September 2021 for all spectrum made available for future PMSE access and be subject to a five-year notice period we cannot activate for spectrum management reasons without PMSE users having an expectation of some form of redress.” The regulator’s original proposal was 2018 with no notice period.

The search to find a PMSE band manager that drew submissions from PLASA, among others, was suspended earlier this year, partly because Ofcom felt there was insufficient time to coordinate spectrum use in London without “an unacceptable risk of disruption” to the Olympics. Asked if there is now a clearer idea of when a band manager might be in place, the Ofcom spokesperson says that “we cannot be more specific at this stage when the band manager will be appointed, but we intend to reactive the award after the 2012 London Games.”