State to give up control over radio spectrum

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The Independent Online

Control of the radio spectrum, one of business's most important basic economic resources along with land and labour, is to be liberalised under a set of proposals announced yesterday by Ofcom, the telecoms regulator.

Control of the radio spectrum, one of business's most important basic economic resources along with land and labour, is to be liberalised under a set of proposals announced yesterday by Ofcom, the telecoms regulator.

Under the Spectrum Framework Review, Ofcom is bringing to an end 100 years of central control over the radio spectrum. Instead, by bringing together recent consultation exercises, Ofcom has come up with four key recommendations that will allow companies to dictate how the spectrum is used and who owns it.

The radio spectrum is the collection of all the radio frequencies over which companies can transmit information, be it voice or data. Demand for new wireless technologies is making the current administration of radio frequencies inefficient and is holding back investment, according to Ofcom.

Instead of the regulator deciding what use radio spectrum should be put to and who owns it, the market will be used to decide the best use for new spectrum allocations. Licence holders will also be allowed to trade the spectrum they own in an open market and change the use they make of their spectrum rights to develop new technologies and services without the need for a change of licence.

There will also be an increase in the amount of radio spectrum made available for companies to develop new technologies without the need to apply for an Ofcom licence at all.

William Webb, the head of research and development at Ofcom, said: "We think it's a pretty radical change in the way spectrum is managed. We are moving from a command and control approach to a market-led approach."

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