As the range and scope of radio use increases, with the emergence of new applications and greater demand for existing uses such as broadcasting, mobile telephony and fixed links, there is a growing need to use the finite spectrum resource more intensively and efficiently. In pursuit of this goal, the Agency uses economic, regulatory and technical tools.
Our economic tools include the continued rollout of administrative pricing (see Section 1.3), which should ensure that licence fees are set at a level that gives users appropriate incentives to use spectrum effectively. Administrative pricing now applies to most classes of radio use, and licence fees are continually reviewed in the light of experience and the Cave Review's recommendations.
Auctions can be an effective tool for making spectrum available to those who value it most and are therefore likely to use it most effectively. The Agency is currently planning competitions for BFWA spectrum at 3.4 GHz and 28 GHz (see Sections 1.2 and 1.7).
Other economic tools – spectrum trading and recognised spectrum access – are being introduced in the Communications Bill (see Section 1.1). Spectrum trading will be an important step forward in spectrum management; it has the potential to be a quick, flexible and effective means of helping users obtain the spectrum they need at a price dictated by the market.
The Agency recognises that making spectrum available on a licence-exempt basis, subject only to compliance with certain technical requirements, can facilitate effective and innovative spectrum use in appropriate cases. This year, we significantly extended licence-exemption by making the 2.4 GHz band and Bands A and B at 5 GHz available for commercial services (see Section 1.9).
Finally, the Agency funds relevant technical research, aiming to promote technical developments that will extend the use of the spectrum. The research element of the Spectrum Efficiency Scheme is aimed particularly at supporting collaborative projects that may lead to more efficient and intensive use of the spectrum (see Section 11.1).
The breadth of radio use at the 2002 Commonwealth Games by broadcasters, organisers and others highlighted the increasing pressure on the radio spectrum. For the spectrum to be able to cope with this demand, it must be used as efficiently as possible