We carry out strategic work in spectrum management, including making sufficient spectrum available for 5G, spectrum clearance, spectrum awards and many other on-going projects.
Our Annual Plan sets out the key spectrum-related work areas for the current year, as well as our broader programme of ongoing work. This includes:
- Preparing for future awards of spectrum bands as they are cleared and released (including the award of the 700 MHz and 3.6 to 3.8 GHz bands)
- Spectrum authorisation (including work on sharing)
- Work to make sufficient spectrum available for 5G
- Studies to inform future requirements for spectrum (such as mobile data, the satellite and space science sectors and fixed wireless uses)
- Spectrum assurance and enforcement
You can read more about these projects below.
In this Spectrum Roadmap we outline the work we are planning to deliver on this strategy, both through our current projects (as outlined in the Plan of Work 2022/23) and proposed future areas of work.
Advances in the use of wireless services continue at pace – and that means ever growing demand for the invisible electromagnetic spectrum that carries signals and data from place to place.
New technology is now being developed which has the potential to open up spectrum at extremely high frequencies – the Terahertz spectrum. We want to start a dialogue on how to ensure this spectrum is managed in the best way possible to support both existing and innovative new uses.
As the UK’s communications regulator, we have a role to play in enabling the development and rollout of 5G, and unlocking its benefits. We have provided an update on the actions we will be taking to facilitate 5G rollout in the UK.
We are preparing to make sufficient spectrum available for 5G. We are also playing a critical role in international discussions on bands for 5G in CEPT and ITU. In addition, we will be preparing for the next World Radiocommunications Conference in 2019 where spectrum bands for 5G are expected to be identified globally.
We are seeking input to inform our programme of work to make 26 GHz available for 5G. Our call for inputs also sets out our thinking on which other bands we will prioritise for 5G.
On 7 December 2017, we responded to Government’s request that we review “the scope for the spectrum licensing regime to facilitate better 4G and 5G deployment at national, regional and local scales, including in-building usage”. See our review of the authorisation regime for spectrum access (PDF, 160.8 KB).
On 1 February 2019, we published a discussion paper on how wireless technology can help business to innovate and be more efficient.
Our mobile data strategy is our long term strategy to address the increasing use of data by mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops. There are a number of ways to increase the capacity of mobile networks to deal with this growth, such as more efficient technology and greater use of small cells, but use of additional spectrum is likely to be part of the solution. Our mobile data strategy identifies spectrum bands for potential mobile use and prioritises our efforts on these. It describes what we plan to do to better understand the possibilities for each band, and, where appropriate, ensure there is an option for future mobile use. We updated our strategy in June 2016 to take into account new developments such as developments in 5G technology.
We have consulted on our space spectrum strategy, which sets out Ofcom’s proposed strategy for the management of spectrum used by the satellite and space science (including earth observation) sectors. These sectors deliver important benefits to UK citizens and consumers, such as broadcast TV, global positioning, communications to ships and aircraft, satellite imagery and information about our climate. There is potential for greater benefits in the future and, once confirmed, the strategy will shape the prioritisation of our work in these sectors over the coming years.
Our Space Spectrum Strategy covers the use of spectrum by the satellite and space science sectors, including meteorological and earth observation satellites.
These sectors already deliver important benefits and our strategy sets out the priorities on which we will focus to enable even greater benefits in the future:
- Enabling growth in satellite broadband;
- Enabling earth observation growth; and
- Recognising the existing benefits of satellite and space science whilst exploring opportunities for new uses.
Delivery of these priorities sits alongside our on-going activities in these sectors, including management of satellite filings and earth station licensing.
Details relating to the development of our current Space Spectrum Strategy are available here:
Enabling wireless innovation through local licensing
In July 2019, we introduced a new licensing approach through spectrum sharing which provides localised access to spectrum bands that can support mobile technology. This allows more people and businesses to use spectrum from a choice of frequency bands. It could support growth and innovation across a range of sectors.
a) the shared access licence, which gives access to four spectrum bands which support mobile technology.
b) the local access licence, which provides a way for other users to access spectrum which has already been licensed to the UK’s mobile network operators (MNOs), in locations where an MNO is not using their spectrum.
A framework for spectrum sharing
Ofcom has a duty to secure the optimal use of the radio spectrum. A key part of achieving this is to release available spectrum to the market, generally by means of an auction.
For information on our ongoing 700MHz projects please click here.