450-470 MHz band alignment
3.1Benefits of this approach
By reassigning existing users into aligned spectrum, the overall result will be improved spectrum efficiency, reduced congestion and a yield of aligned spectrum.
In the long term, there is a risk that the demand for spectrum in the band may outstrip supply unless there is an organised structure to the band (i.e. through band alignment).
There is a view within the European PMR industry that the lack of available harmonised spectrum is the principal constraint to the development of this sector. The removal of this regulatory barrier will allow existing and new users of the band to have a wider choice of systems and to benefit from lower prices of new technology, as manufacturers gains from economies of scale.
Band alignment will create band stability for new and existing assignments into the future.
3.1.2New technology and services
The release of harmonised spectrum can be used to introduce new equipment, improve the quality of existing services and allow existing users to expand their radio service. Any new equipment used in the band will need to comply with relevant UK Interface Requirements (IRs), e.g. IR2001 for PMR equipment. Examples of digital technologies presently or soon to be available are TETRA, TETRAPOL and DIIS.
Providing spectrum to facilitate advances in technology will allow increased access to the spectrum, and so allow natural development of the radio business sectors occupying the band. Those that would like to use TETRA or other digital technologies will benefit from extra functionality – allowing expansion of existing services or provision of new radio services – in addition to efficiencies and a more flexible band plan due to advancement of technology.
RA seeks to remove the ‘UK only’ market at the earliest possible time. This should reduce equipment costs by achieving economies of scale in manufacture, thus assisting the introduction of new digital equipment.
The UK is actively contributing to CEPT Project Team FM38, which is tasked with developing a strategic view on the future use of PMR throughout Europe. While it is expected that some PMR users will continue to operate cost-effective analogue systems, it is recognised that there is a market requirement for more sophisticated PMR services, which can be satisfied by digital technologies. Accordingly, it is expected that analogue users will, given the choice, migrate to digital PMR/PAMR systems as analogue systems become more expensive to maintain and operate (due to equipment shortages and increasing operational expense). This migration from analogue to digital narrowband systems will be followed in an evolutionary step to the deployment of wideband systems offering modern high-speed data services.
3.1.3Public Safety services
There is an increasing digital communications requirement from the Public Safety services and commercial users, which requires aligned spectrum.
Current tendering processes by the fire and ambulance services may create a need for new ‘guaranteed access’ bands for Public Safety services. Should this happen, part of the spectrum yield from the alignment process may be required to satisfy this need.
There will be a release of spectrum when Public Safety users migrate out of the band, which will stimulate the alignment process. Such an opportunity to align the band is unlikely to be repeated in the foreseeable future.
3.1.4Prevention of Continental interference
Band alignment will offer protection against long-term interference within the band in the shortest possible timescale.
If the band is harmonised throughout Europe, this will allow effective co-ordination of assignments (e.g. via the Berlin Agreement 2001) and reduce vulnerability to Continental interference in the south and east of England.
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