'Super-regulator' Ofcom announces spectrum allocation to bring new low-cost wireless broadband connections to UK rural communities

December 29, 2003

2 Min Read

LONDON -- Ofcom today announced the allocation of radiocommunications spectrum intended to deliver a new kind of low-cost wireless broadband connection to the most remote communities in the country.

Wireless broadband services founded on the newly-released 5.8GHz Band C spectrum range will offer significant benefits to people who live and work in the UK's rural communities, many of whom are unable to access fixed-line broadband infrastructure.

Average connection speeds will vary depending on the configuration offered by each service provider; however, it is anticipated that rural consumers and businesses will typically be offered always-on broadband connections with download speeds of up to 1Mb/second.

5.8GHz Band C services will be a more powerful variant of existing wi-fi services. They will share spectrum with a number of UK military radiocommunications applications by making use of new Dynamic Frequency Selection technology to minimise interference. Band C spectrum is also currently used by some TV outside broadcast units. Ofcom will be working with broadcasters to ensure interference is avoided.

The new services will be licensed by Ofcom under a light touch licensing regime. This will enable service providers to offer the service at a nominal licensing cost of £1 per terminal installed per year (subject to a minimum cost of £50 per year).

Each household or business connecting to the internet will require a 5.8GHz Band C terminal. Whilst service providers will need to recover their additional costs (such as equipment purchase, customer support and billing) over and above the nominal licensing fee, it is anticipated that providers will seek to offer rural consumers and businesses a range of wireless broadband services which are both fast and cost-effective.

The first 5.8GHz Band C services are expected to come to market through 2004.

Chief Executive of Ofcom Stephen Carter said: "Broadband Britain should be for all of Britain - not just urban communities. We look forward to the introduction of innovative new services using this newly-released spectrum."

Office of Communications (Ofcom)

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