Ofcom

Ofcom and the Radiocommunications Agency launch joint consultation on spectrum trading

    London (ots) - Ofcom and the Radiocommunications Agency today announced the beginning of a joint consultation on proposals to allow the trading of rights to use radio spectrum.

    The providers of wireless communications services such as mobile telephony, pagers, radio and television broadcasts, as well as the providers and users of two-way radios and many other types of service, are each assigned different frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum.

    The large majority of those services operate under the terms of licences issued by the Radiocommunications Agency - the DTI agency responsible for the management of most non-military spectrum in the UK. After 29 December 2003, the Radiocommunications Agency's responsibilities will pass to the new communications regulator, Ofcom.

    At present, these spectrum licences cannot be traded or sold. Ofcom and the Radiocommunications Agency are now proposing to introduce new mechanisms to allow trading in rights to use spectrum.

    The UK is in the lead in Europe in issuing such a substantial consultation on spectrum trading. Ofcom and the Radiocommunications Agency are now seeking views on this fundamental and potentially far-reaching change in spectrum management.

    The Communications Act 2003 requires Ofcom to further the interests of citizens in relation to communications matters and to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition. The Act also requires Ofcom to ensure the optimal use of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    Spectrum trading will play a significant role in achieving those statutory requirements. An open market in spectrum, governed by fair and effective competition rules, will make it easier for new wireless communications services to become established. Trading will ensure the most efficient use of the radio spectrum and bring a greater choice of services.

    Ofcom Chief Executive Stephen Carter said:

    "Spectrum trading will allow innovation and choice to shape the future allocation of spectrum, in place of the centrally planned, top-down approach of the past."

    "Our aim is to stimulate an environment in which the UK's communications industries flourish. The introduction of spectrum trading is a major component of that overarching policy objective".

    Welcoming publication of the consultation Stephen Timms, Minister for E-Commerce, said:

    "This is a milestone in the transfer to Ofcom of its stewardship of the radio spectrum. This consultation document can help unlock even greater benefits from our use of the radio spectrum. It is important that we make the best possible use of this finite resource. This is key to the provision of new wireless services that underpin modern communications for business, entertainment and leisure, as well as for essential public services."

    "The proposals in this consultation document can play an important part by making spectrum available more quickly and efficiently for the new wireless services on which future prosperity depends. I welcome this publication as a significant further step in the programme of market-based reforms that we have taken forward since 1997. I hope that as many as possible will give Ofcom the benefit of their views so that we can look ahead with confidence to a successful launch of spectrum trading."

A summary of the consultation can be found at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/current/spectrum_trading/ summary.htm

The summary is written for non-experts and has been granted Crystal Mark status by the Plain English Campaign.

The full consultation document - with all technical detail - can be found at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/current/ spectrum_trading/condoc.pdf

The closing date for responses is 13 February 2004.

Notes to Editors and CSEs

Ofcom will be the UK's new communications industry regulator with wide ranging responsibilities across the UK's communications markets when it assumes its powers at the end of 2003.  Ofcom will inherit the duties of the five existing regulators it will replace -the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency.  An independent regulatory body, Ofcom will also fulfil the additional duties enacted in the provisions laid down in the Communications Act 2003

                          This information is provided by RNS
        The company news service from the London Stock Exchange

ots Originaltext: Ofcom
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