450-470 MHz band alignment
4.1Band alignment survey
To assess the effects of band alignment, RA carried out a customer survey in October 2001. All affected licensees in the band were surveyed, to obtain technical and economic information about their current radio use. Questions covered subjects including the extent to which licensees’ existing equipment could be modified to meet the CEPT Recommendation, consistent with the proposed new band plan (given in Annex C). The results indicated that approximately 65% of equipment currently in the band can be modified to operate on the new configuration. Economic information from the survey has been used to produce a draft Regulatory Impact Assessment (Annex A); respondents to this consultation are encouraged to provide evidence on costs and benefits if possible.
4.2Who will be affected?
The 450-470 MHz band alignment project affects licensees, equipment manufacturers, equipment suppliers, site owners and ultimately end consumers. Examples of the types of uses affected are taxis, broadcasting, medical, retail, transport, construction, education, banking, security, utilities, government and leisure.
There are around 25,000 PMR licences in the band, and two national Public Mobile Data operators (having over 60,000 subscribers between them, with numbers currently growing rapidly. RA has a good working relationship with these customers and is actively assisting them in their preparations for alignment. Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) and Scanning Telemetry (ST) users have management companies that make assignments on behalf of RA; there are around 470 ST customers and 410 PMSE customers in the band, with each customer having at least one assignment. Table 1 breaks down the customer survey responses by type of use of the band.
Type of use
Percentage of total respondents
On-Site Private Mobile Radio
Wide-Area Private Mobile Radio10
Private Wide-Area Paging
Source: Band Alignment Survey 2001
Table 1: Breakdown of survey responses by type of use in the 450-470 MHz band
There are 28 ‘large’ users (defined as those with over 250 mobiles) in the 450-470 MHz band, including the Public Mobile Data operators, which each have more than 250 mobiles on their systems. For large users, band alignment will represent a significant re-engineering effort. RA has already established close working relationships with some of them, and is actively helping them to assess the alignment’s effect on their operations and to identify an appropriate engineering solution. RA will also contact the remaining large users with a view to offering engineering assistance.
Within the band there is a 1 MHz block (458.5-459.5 MHz) used for a number of applications by, among others, Short Range Devices (SRD). SRDs are licence-exempt, so it is not considered feasible to move this block over the timescale of the band alignment project; as a result, all changes will occur around this block.
4.3Effects on industry
Carrying out the project in the shortest possible time will entail a cost to industry. In particular, licensees may need to buy new, updated equipment before they had planned to, so will experience accelerated depreciation of their equipment. Site operators will have to revise site-engineering formats.
Although this approach will mean short-term costs for some organisations, there is considered to be a wider benefit for the radio industry. Band alignment will ultimately enable the spectrum to realise its full potential and value. By choosing a short timescale, RA is trying to minimise business disruption to users, while promoting confidence in the commercial use of the band. However, given the notification period of five years and a further five-year implementation period, it is expected that industry and radio users will fund the cost of alignment to the CEPT Recommendation or seek alternative communications solutions.
4.4What will band alignment mean for the licensee?
10 Includes the responses from both Public Mobile Data operators.
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