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450-470 MHz band alignment

Executive Summary

This consultation document describes a spectrum re-planning project by which the Radiocommunications Agency (RA) will manage the alignment of the 450-470 MHz band to the configuration quoted in the European Common Allocations (ECA) Table.

The UK is at a disadvantage because its existing spectrum configuration cannot easily accommodate new and readily available low-cost technology. This is a significant constraint on users and members of the radio industry who wish to provide flexible private radiocommunications solutions within the UK.

The Agency has chosen this band since the Emergency Services users, which have a 6 MHz allocation in the band, will be migrated to the Home Office-sponsored Airwave Project. Additionally, the radio propagation characteristics of the band make it highly sought after for mobile radio systems since it provides coverage ranges of up to about 30 km and some in-building penetration. It is also a band that has been identified across Europe for digital services according to a common spectrum configuration plan.

Therefore, in order to maximise the benefit of this spectrum to the UK radio industry, RA is proposing to complete alignment within five years. It plans to start in earnest at the end of 2005 and to complete the process by 2010. However, on a case-by-case basis, alignment will be possible prior to this date.

RA notes that there will be technical and economic implications of carrying out band alignment. On the technical side, there is an associated band plan showing how alignment will be achieved in a stepwise process. This has gained majority acceptance within the project’s Industry Working Group. On the economic side, RA has produced a draft Regulatory Impact Assessment, which assesses the costs and benefits of the proposed approach. Where possible, estimates have been made using data from the band alignment survey carried out last year. However, this is a working document and is available for consultation. Overall, RA will seek to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of band alignment over the five-year period.

RA, in keeping with its published strategy to align this spectrum, seeks views from the radio industry, users and any other interested parties on the proposed alignment process outlined within this document.

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