Spectrum demand requests

12 April 2016

If you have a need to access spectrum not currently authorised by Ofcom

From time to time we are approached by organisations that wish to launch innovative commercial wireless services using spectrum for which there are no suitable licences available from Ofcom. Section 8(1) of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 makes it an offence for any person to establish or use any station for wireless telegraphy or to install or use any apparatus for wireless telegraphy except under and in accordance with a licence granted by us under that section (a wireless telegraphy licence).

The information below is for those interested in gaining access to spectrum, on a commercial basis, where there are no existing suitable licences. To help stakeholders through this process we have set up a single point of contact in order to help facilitate this process. We are already doing a number of things to encourage and allow innovative and new uses of spectrum.

  • We have a well-established process for issuing licences in response to requests for temporary access to spectrum for testing and development purposes on a non-commercial basis.
  • Our spectrum awards programme releases spectrum on a service and technology neutral basis that can be acquired through an open, transparent and non-discriminatory award process.
  • We look for ways to reduce the restrictions on existing licence classes and encourage market forces by introducing spectrum trading, and removing unnecessary licence restrictions on service and technology. This gives interested parties ability to negotiate with existing licensees to gain access and use spectrum providing it falls within the technical conditions of the licence.
  • We are also working with Public Sector spectrum users to look for ways in which spectrum can be used by other parties.

Things that we may need to take into consideration

It should be noted that by submitting a request to us does not provide any guarantee that you will gain access to spectrum.

Before making a decision to grant a licence there are a number of things that we will need consider. These are likely to vary depending on the frequency band in question however, our key considerations will be our duty to secure optimal use of the spectrum and, in particular, to ensure that new uses do not cause harmful interference to existing authorised uses. In order for us to come to this conclusion we may require evidence to show that the new use will not impact on existing use(s) or user(s).

Before making any grant of a licence we may also need to consider the impact of the grant may have on competition. This is especially the case where some form of exclusive access is requested. In these cases we will need to adhere to the requirements of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 which may require us to consult prior to any grant of licence.

What you need to do next

If you have a request to access spectrum that does not fall under our existing licence products please contact us. Before doing so please check the following:

  • The request is not for testing or demonstration purposes (this is covered by our non-operational licence products
  • The use is not covered by one of our existing licence products or is licence-exempt
  • That the spectrum usage rights for that use have already been granted to another organisation (http://spectruminfo.ofcom.org.uk/spectrumInfo/licences).
  • The request is not for equipment already authorised for use but in a different frequency band or different technical parameters (http://spectruminfo.ofcom.org.uk/spectrumInfo/ukpfa).
  • Access to the spectrum is not in bands that are already liberalised and tradable where use can be gained through the secondary market.
  • That access to the spectrum is not likely to impact on the existing user(s) of the band.
  • Equipment is or can be made compliant with European equipment framework for putting equipment on the market and into use (currently the R&TTE Directive but from June 2016 the RED) (R&TTE Directive).

If you have any spectrum access requests that you wish to speak to us about please send an email to spectrum.demand@ofcom.org.uk providing an overview of the request and any supporting technical evidence you may have.

Consideration process

Once received, we will consider the best route available (if any) to access the spectrum. As part of this process we may need to ask for additional information including technical evidence. However, as advised previously we cannot provide any assurances that access to the requested spectrum would be granted or provided on a first come first served basis.

If a request identifies spectrum that could be put to wider use where demand for the spectrum may exceed supply, we may need to commence an open award process. This is in line with our duties and the requirements placed on us by the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. In other cases we may notify you directly and advise the terms and conditions which the licence would be subject to and the associated fee that would need to be paid prior to the issue of the licence.

It should be noted that requests for non-standard access may take some time to be considered due to their complex nature and may require wider consultation.