450-470 MHz band alignment
has no direct control over the kind of system that might be accommodated elsewhere in Europe in this band, and in the current band configuration it therefore remains vulnerable to renewed interference.
In the UK, the 450-470 MHz band consists of blocks of spectrum allocated to a variety of uses:
Private Mobile Radio (PMR);
Public Mobile Data operators, supported on dedicated channels within the general PMR allocations;
Scanning Telemetry (ST), used by the water, gas and electricity industries for data acquisition and control at remote sites;
Emergency Services (ES), also known as Public Safety;
Private Wide-Area Paging (WAP);
Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE); and
Maritime On-Board, for use in coastal areas and navigable waterways.
The arrangement of these frequencies is normally in pairs – base and mobile transmit. However, the spacing between these pairs is not constant throughout the band. Also, the base-transmit and mobile-transmit frequencies are reversed relative to their European counterparts. In the new plan there will be base-transmit frequencies above 460 MHz and mobile-transmit frequencies below, with a common 10 MHz spacing between the pair (Figure 1).
There are several key drivers for the 450-470 MHz band alignment project. These are:
Major benefits to the UK. Providing spectrum to facilitate advances in technology will ensure the continued success of the PMR market. The consequent advantages of large-scale manufacture will benefit users and industry. This should reduce the cost of new digital technology, and result in lower prices and a wider choice of systems. These systems will have increased functionality and allow direct connection to IT equipment and new opportunities in e-business.
Better use of spectrum. Re-planning the band will allow existing systems to develop and grow, and will make it easier to introduce new equipment in the European configuration. For instance, the existing band structure constrains the introduction of new digital technology – including TETRA4, TETRAPOL5 and DIIS6 – for private systems. In fact the band is one of four identified in the ERC/DEC/(96)04 decision for the use of TETRA, which requires spectrum in the correct configuration.
Yield of harmonised spectrum. Existing assignments (i.e. channel allocations) will be more efficiently reassigned through the use of a new planning tool, which will repack existing users to occupy less spectrum overall and yet retain existing quality. This will yield harmonised spectrum estimated to be between 2 and 3 MHz.
Spectrum for Public Safety services. As a result of the Major Review of Police and Fire Communications (1991-1993), the PSRCP7 emerged. In initiating the PSRCP, the UK Government highlighted the need to start the 450-470 MHz band alignment process. In planning for Emergency Services systems, it is becoming increasingly important that additional CEPT-compliant spectrum for Public Safety users is made available in the near future. Spectrum within the aligned 450-470 MHz band could accommodate this requirement.
Consolidation of military spectrum. There is an interdependency between the release of military spectrum for civil use and the increasing interest by the military in the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. This requires aligned spectrum. Hence, early release of this military spectrum will be facilitated by band alignment.
Interference from neighbouring European countries. Interference is suffered by many licensees in southern and eastern England – particularly in the summer, when UHF propagation is enhanced due to high atmospheric pressure. Under these conditions. systems (some of which are safety-critical) can be severely degraded or even rendered unusable. Alignment to the ECA Table will mean that the UK can co-ordinate its use of radio channels with Europe (e.g. via the principles and procedures contained in the Berlin Agreement 20018) and mitigate the effects of any future interference caused by the introduction of new systems on the Continent.
4 TETRA – TErrestrial Trunked RAdio; the ETSI digital trunked radio standard.
5 TETRAPOL – a proprietary digital trunked radio standard.
6 DIIS – Digital Information Interchange System; an ETSI non-trunked radio standard (not yet finished).
7 PSRCP – Public Safety RadioCommunications Project.
8 The Agreement ratified on 30 June 2000, known as the Vienna Agreement, was revised and ratified on 14 Sept 2001. It is now known unofficially as the Berlin Agreement and covers frequency co-ordination in the fixed and land mobile service in 29.7 MHz-39.5 GHz
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