450-470 MHz band alignment
3(i)Identifying the benefits
The potential benefits of band alignment are:
Release of spectrum by re-packing existing users into the band more efficiently. This will allow the introduction of new services, or the expansion of current radio services. In the band alignment survey, around one respondent in ten reported improved access to European customers, an increase in the UK customer base, and the ability to enter a new product or service market as potential benefits.
A potential opportunity to introduce spectrum trading in harmonised spectrum.
Radio users will have a wider choice of systems and may benefit from lower prices of digital equipment.
Providers of radio services may be able to acquire additional UK customers. With new equipment allowed to be introduced, possibly with extra functionality, users may be able to increase the quality of existing services and gain more customers. In the band alignment survey, over half of those who reported that they would benefit anticipated an increase in the quality of service that their business would provide. Further, one in five of the PMR respondents wanted the ability to send text, 17% the ability to send data and one in ten wanted roaming to a public network11.
An opportunity to rationalise certain military systems, with subsequent release of spectrum in civil PMR bands.
4(i)Business sectors affected
Radio is used by businesses and public organisations of all sizes, throughout the economy. The alignment of the 450-470 MHz band will affect all licensees in the band. In particular, the following types of radio users will be affected:
Programme Making and Special Events;
On-Site Private Mobile Radio;
Wide-Area Private Mobile Radio;
Private Wide-Area Paging; and
Public Mobile Data operators
These types of users use radio for a wide variety of business and public activities such as taxis, broadcasting, medical, retail, transport, construction, education, banking, security, utilities, government and leisure. In the band alignment survey carried out last year, most respondents were in the public services, education and health sectors. Furthermore, there are 28 large users (i.e. those with over 250 mobiles) in the 450-470 MHz band. In the band alignment survey, around 40% of the respondents had up to nine mobiles.
4(ii) Identifying costs
The potential costs of alignment are likely to be incurred by existing radio users. These costs are likely to be:
Loss of residual value of current equipment. Where current equipment cannot be retuned, users will need to purchase new equipment so may experience accelerated depreciation.
Cost of retuning existing equipment (if possible). Around 65% of the respondents to the band alignment survey said that their existing equipment was retuneable.
Loss of revenue to radio users from their radio service being out of action with no substitute available.
Cost of employing more staff to retune or replace all equipment.
Cost of migrating to an alternative service or band.
Various types of public organisations and private individuals/companies use radio to provide a service, so competition in a range of product and service markets is likely to be affected. For example, in the upstream market this may be in the supply of equipment, possibly on a European level if equipment becomes
11 Private Wide-Area Paging users generally preferred greater coverage and roaming to a public network. Wide-Area PMR users were more likely to see the ability to send data as a useful additional function.
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