‘Re-farming’ radio spectrum to meet bandwidth demands

With growing demand for bandwidth for broadcasting, mobile networks and M2M (machine to machine) data networks, speakers and delegates at last week’s Cambridge Wireless and ICT KTN conference and workshop urged innovators, regulators, operators, component and system vendors and application providers to work more closely together to ‘re-farm’ and maximise the use of large parts of the radio spectrum.

The main recommendation, with universal support from all delegates, was to set up a UK Spectrum forum, similar to the structure of the UMTS forum, which had representatives from operators, manufacturers, regulators and government.
Stuart Revell, Chairman of ICT KTN Wireless Technology & Spectrum Working Group, who championed this event, said: “It’s vitally important that the proposed forum addresses the specific needs to increase technical input into the UK process, become a catalyst to stimulate innovation, foster greater UK alignment and increase worldwide activity and influence. The UK enjoyed ‘Innovator’ status and a leadership position for Digital Television and GSM and it’s clear that regions innovating with industry and government collaboration achieve faster time to market along with lower deployment and retrospective mitigation costs to solve interference and co-existence issues. Regions/countries following the ‘Innovators’ are often left with non-optimal solutions, face a higher cost for deployment and rely on the innovating region’s supply chain.”

“With today’s communications landscape founded on the release of licensed and licence-exempt radio spectrum for mass-market communications, the main users must cooperate to reassign frequencies, rebuild networks and re-equip users with new devices,” said Stuart Revell. “What is becoming clear is that reallocation of spectrum for new services has the potential to cause increasing levels of interference, particularly for legacy equipment users. This means that particular attention needs to be paid to managing and solving these co-existence challenges in a new era of rapidly increasing usage of spectrum and the reliance of wireless connectivity to almost every electronic device and person in the world.”

“We would like to thank the many people from the UK ‘spectrum community’ who were able to spare time to take part in this workshop,” said Stirling Essex of Cambridge Wireless. “We are also grateful to them for their contributions to the debate. Many positive and useful suggestions were made for improving how we can reallocate and reuse spectrum and we look forward to taking these forward with Ofcom and others to reinstate the UK’s position as the ‘thought leader’ on this important topic.”

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