UK Putting As Much Spectrum As Possible Into The Open Market

from the ah,-spectrum-allocation dept

Spectrum allocation certainly sounds boring, but it’s one of the more important things that will impact plenty of technology over the next few years. All that WiFi you enjoy is, in part, the result of spectrum allocation policies that opened up a segment of spectrum for unlicensed use. The fact that Verizon couldn’t offer EV-DO wireless broadband in certain cities for a while was because of spectrum issues. The US has, for the most part, had a pretty dreadful spectrum allocation policy recently. Partly, this is because they’re hoping and praying that somehow Congress works out a way to get back a ton of spectrum (given away for free) that the broadcasters are sitting on for their transition from analog to digital TV. However, what the US needs is a real spectrum allocation policy, rather than its current plan whereby it dribbles out bits and pieces of spectrum and makes little changes along the way. Mostly, that’s created a big mess, so far (and a few lawsuits). That’s why it’s exciting to see the UK actually move ahead with a comprehensive and reasonable spectrum allocation policy — with a major change from most existing spectrum allocation policies around the world. While they’re not “freeing” up spectrum completely from licenses (as some would like to see), they are making spectrum a much more open market. We’ve discussed some of this before, but they’ve made their plans clearer. Basically, they’ll offer up a ton of spectrum, and then let the market decide what to do with it. This is a huge change from most places that designate that specific spectrum needs to be used for certain things (such as 3G services or television) and thereby limiting how useful it can really be. The one area where Ofcom in the UK made a concession was concerning 3G wireless technology — where, if they didn’t protect existing licensees who paid billions and billions for the rights, the various mobile operators would revolt. It may cause some problems initially, but the plan is a big step forward for the UK, and it would be great to see other countries, such as the US, follow.

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