As foreshadowed in last year's Annual Report, the sixth edition of the UK Spectrum Strategy ('Strategy for the Future Use of the Radio Spectrum in the UK') was published in May 2002. The Strategy gives a comprehensive picture of how the whole frequency spectrum from 9 kHz to 105 GHz is allocated and used, and outlines our thinking on how its use will develop over the next few years.
The Agency produces the Strategy in collaboration with other Government departments and agencies that have an interest in spectrum management or that manage it for specific services. As well as providing an overview of spectrum use, it covers all the major radio services that use the spectrum, and describes the key issues and challenges in each area. A major feature of this edition is the Ministry of Defence's contribution, which describes how the 28% of the spectrum currently allocated to defence is used and how this use may change in the future.
A draft Strategy was published for consultation with users; a number of comments were received and were taken into account in the final version. Further user comments on the published version are very welcome.
Many spectrum allocation and management decisions taken by the Agency over the past year reflected the priority areas highlighted in the Strategy:
|[||public mobile services;|
|[||fixed links and fixed wireless access (FWA); and|
|[||short-range radio links, including licence-exempt services.|
|Significant developments in these areas included:|
|[||the decision to make spectrum available for FWA services at 3.4 GHz (see Section 1.7);|
|[||the opening up of a further fixed-links band at 65 GHz (see Section 1.8);|
|[||the steps being taken to make the 2.5 GHz band available for 3G mobile services in due course (see Section 1.11); and|
|[||the opening up of Bands A and B at 5 GHz for commercial wireless local area networks (WLANs) (see Section 1.9).|
The current members of SMAG, with the Minister for e-Commerce and Competitiveness, Stephen Timms MP (front row, second from left)
management will be increasingly complex in the future, owing to rapid
technological change and continued increases in demand. In line with the
recommendations of the Cave Review, it will be vital to manage the spectrum
flexibly, placing as many decisions as possible in the hands of users
within an increasingly market-based framework while also balancing the
widest possible range of needs and interests.
2.2 Band alignment
The Agency published a consultation document in December 2002, seeking views on the proposed alignment process in the 450 to 470 MHz band. The consultation period has just closed, and we are currently analysing the responses. We are developing an IT tool that will model the changes and help to re-plan this band, releasing the maximum amount of spectrum that is consistent with at least maintaining the current quality of customer assignments.
Advisory Group (SMAG)
SMAG is a non-departmental public body which provides the relevant DTI Minister and the Agency with independent strategic advice on spectrum management. Chaired by Dr John Forrest CBE, SMAG continues to examine a number of key spectrum issues.
The major topics discussed in 2002-03 were:
|[||the response to the Cave Review;|
|[||public-safety spectrum policy;|
|[||management of new technologies such as software-defined radio and ultra wide band;|
|[||management of licence-exempt spectrum; and|
hosted a consultation event on licence-exempt spectrum in June 2002 and
an open forum on spectrum trading in December (see Section
1.1), following the Agency's consultations on these subjects. SMAG's
annual brainstorming, held in November, focused on software-defined radio.
During 2002-03 two new members were appointed; full details of SMAG's
membership and work can be found on its website (www.smag.radio.gov.uk).