A year and a half ago, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that UK telecom regulatory agency, Ofcom, was moving forward with a plan to make a much more open marketplace for spectrum. Traditionally, regulatory agencies have simply assigned spectrum for certain purposes. That is, they'll designate a certain spectrum for TV or radio or broadband or cellular communications. In recent years, they then would let companies bid on spectrum, but only to be used for the pre-designated purpose. Ofcom realized how inefficient that idea is, and claimed that the new policy would be to simply auction off the spectrum and allow it to be put to use in whatever manner made the most sense. That's a huge step forward. However, even knowing that, it's a bit surprising to hear that Ofcom is now considering pulling the plug on AM and FM radio in order to put that spectrum to better use. Apparently, the regulators aren't shy in saying they believe traditional radio is a dying medium, and there's little point in prolonging its suffering when the spectrum could be used for much better purposes, including radio replacements. That's quite a statement, and not the sort of thing you'd expect from regulators -- but once again, Ofcom seems to be taking a pretty forward-thinking stance.
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