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UK to Sell Off 750 MHz of Radio Spectrum


UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in the 2016 budget that 750 MHz of public sector radio spectrum would be “released” — that is, auctioned. The Amateur Service in the UK currently shares significant spectrum with the public sector. In Supporting the digital economy,” the Budget 2016 document calls electromagnetic spectrum a valuable and scarce resource.

Budget 2016 announces a new government commitment that 750 MHz of valuable public sector spectrum in bands below 10 GHz will be made available by 2022, of which 500 MHz will be made available by 2020.” The document states. “This builds on government’s previous 2010 commitment, and will deliver wider economic benefits by generating capital receipts and by supporting innovation in digital communications services and the development of new technologies.

Previous spectrum sell-offs have adversely impacted the Amateur and Amateur Satellite Services. In 2014 Ofcom announced that it was ending Amateur Radio access to significant portions of the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands. The action came in the wake of a year-long “consultation” — a rule making proceeding — that involved the release by the Ministry of Defence of 40 MHz of spectrum at 2.3 GHz and 150 MHz of spectrum at 3.4 GHz. Amateur Radio is secondary on the bands.

Amateur Radio lost privileges on frequencies in the two bands that overlap with spectrum that Ofcom plans to award for “new civil uses” — 2350 to 2390 MHz and 3410 to 3475 MHz.

In 2015, Ofcom said it was considering the Amateur Satellite Service allocations at 10.475 GHz  and 47.0 GHz for 5G use. Ofcom published an update on spectrum bands above 6 GHz that might be suitable for next-generation mobile, often referred to as “5G.”



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