UK comms regulator Ofcom is consulting on proposals to make use of 25 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band – known as the ‘centre gap’ – for mobile data.
In November 2014, Ofcom announced that the 700 MHz band – which is currently used for digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphone applications – would be repurposed for mobile data as soon as practicably possible. Initial plans indicated that it would be possible to make the band available by the end of 2021. However, Ofcom analysis suggests that benefits to citizens and consumers would be greater if it was available sooner.
The consultation document sets out proposals which would enable Ofcom to bring forward the point at which this spectrum is nationally available for mobile data by up to 18 months – to a target of no later than Q2 2020. This would involve changing the frequencies used by some temporary DTT services, known as interim multiplexes, which operate in the 600 MHz band (550-606 MHz).
The document also considers the future of part of the 700 MHz band called the centre gap. It sets out proposals to make this spectrum available for mobile data.
Ofcom’s November 2014 Statement made a decision on use of the main part of the 700 MHz, called the ‘paired spectrum’. However, it did not decide what the 25MHz in the middle of the band, the ‘centre gap’, should be used for. It considered a range of applications which could use the centre gap and reached a provisional view that mobile data is likely to be the use that maximises benefits to citizens and consumers.