UK telecommunications regulator Ofcom has announced that it’s ending Amateur Radio access to significant portions of the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands.
The action, announced on April 7, came in the wake of a year-long “consultation” — a rule making proceeding — that involved the release by the Ministry of Defence of 40 MHz of spectrum at 2.3 GHz and 150 MHz of spectrum at 3.4 GHz. Amateur Radio is secondary on the bands.
Amateur Radio will lose privileges on frequencies in the two bands that overlap with spectrum that Ofcom plans to award for “new civil uses” — 2350 to 2390 MHz and 3410 to 3475 MHz. The announcement gives radio amateurs at least 12 months’ notice, but radio amateurs must comply immediately with procedures to avoid interfering with other users; ham radio occupants of 2310 to 2350 MHz will have to register their use and provide details to Ofcom.
Amateur Radio will retain access to the adjacent bands, but Ofcom has put procedures in place to remove even those frequencies from Amateur Radio access, if necessary in the future. Ofcom said earlier this year that with military and other government use of the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz spectrum ending, “we believe an award of the spectrum for high power use is likely to deliver greater benefit to UK consumers and citizens than continued amateur use.” Ofcom was required by the Ministry of Defence to adequately protect its systems from Amateur Radio interference in both the released spectrum and in adjacent bands.
“The MoD’s plans are part of a government commitment to release 500 MHz of spectrum by 2020,” Ofcom explained in its order. “This commitment to opening up spectrum for new civil uses is based on growing demand from UK consumers for spectrum-hungry devices such as smartphones and tablets.” Ofcom said that use of mobile data devices more than doubled in the 18 months leading up to January 2012. “Indeed, the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands are identified in Ofcom’s ‘mobile data strategy’ as having the potential to support even better mobile data services for citizens and consumers in the coming years,” the regulator said.
Ofcom said it was making 2300 to 2302 MHz available for amateur use, but licensees first must obtain a Notice of Variation to their licenses. Hams in the US have secondary access to 2300 to 2310 MHz, 2390 to 2450 MHz, and 3300 to 3500 MHz. — Thanks to RSGB, Ofcom