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UNITED KINGDOM

  • Open Spectrum UK - an alliance of 10 organisations which came together to co-sign our contribution to Ofcom's Spectrum Framework Review, and to work for more license-exempt public access to the spectrum in the UK.
  • "Wireless Utopias" - an evening panel discussion at the London Science Museum, 26 May 2005, featuring members of our Board of Advisors - Dewayne Hendricks, Onno Purbo and Mike Marcus. The CyberSalon website has background materials and biographies Also see the notes taken by Julian Priest and blogged during the discussion.
  • "Debate over digital spectrum hots up," Ping Wales, 18 May 2006: a statement on what to do with the spectrum released by the end of analogue TV broadcasts, drafted by "independent advocacy body Open Spectrum UK... which recommends that the frequencies to be released should be used to provide wireless broadband to under-served areas, was endorsed by the Communications Management Association, the UK's premier business communications membership association..."
  • "Ofcom pushes UK to be first in white-space radio," by Rupert Goodwins, ZDNet UK, 1 September 2011
  • "White space devices and implementation of geolocation databases," UK Office of Communication consultation document, 1 September 2011
  • Enhancing Spectrum Efficiency - in 2006 much of Ofcom's subcontracted technical and economic research focussed on the license exempt use of spectrum (see "Ofcom studies ways to advance license exempt spectrum"). Some of the resulting reports have clear value to policymakers in other countries:

    • "Economic Assessment of the value of [license exempt] Bands": the total Net Present Value of ten representative applications is about 215 billion British pounds (about 300 billion euros) - nearly half of that due to public access WiFi.
    • "Understanding the Scope for a Power Increase for Wireless Broadband Access at 2.4GHz and 5.xGHz" - Ofcom initially thought that higher power allowances for license exempt networks would be useful in rural areas, but Scientific Generics found very large economic benefits for urban areas, too, and recommended linking the allowed power to antenna directivity. (Unfortunately, Ofcom backed away from the idea after it failed to gain support in a public consultation.)
    • "Licence Exempt Application Specific Bands": the pros and cons of having license exempt bands dedicated to specific applications - versus bands not limited to specific applications: "Overall, economic analysis indicated that in some cases spectrum commons allocation in LE bands is beneficial compared with segregated allocations... the loss due to inter-system interference was more than compensated by the spectral efficiency gains of sharing a band..."
    • "Higher Frequency bands for Licence Exempt Applications" - in 2002 the US Federal Communication Commission's Spectrum Policy Task Force suggested that license exemption could become the "default" policy for spectrum over 30GHz. Ofcom asked Quotient Associates to look into this more carefully. They suggested a mixed approach, with 40% of the spectrum between 30 and 100 GHz being license exempt, and "light licensing" in another 50%.
    • "Improving the sharing of the radio spectrum" - perhaps unsurprisingly, the "most promising schemes" tested included "Spectrum commons" and "Spectrum commons, where devices move if interfered with..."

  • "Rural broadband backlash of 'second-class citizens'," Midhurst and Petworth Observer, 16 November 2013.
  • "Ofcom sanctions free radio," Wireless Waffle, 24 September, 2009: "...hang gliders have a special arrangement with Ofcom to allow them easy access to various radio frequencies without needing a licence! Yes, apparently a chap called Rod Buck, the then radio officer of the British Hang Gliding and Parachute Association (BHPA) reached an 'agreement' with the Radiocommunications Agency some years ago (must have been quite some years as the Agency was disbanded in 2003) that they could use a set of radio frequencies for air to air and air to ground communications and as long as they stuck to them the Agency would 'turn a blind eye'. What are these frequencies? 143.750 to 143.950 MHz in 25 kHz steps... The top of this frequency range, 143.950 MHz, is the unofficial calling channel and from the Wireless Waffle HQ it is alive most days with chitter chatter from enthusiasts dodging in and out of planes, talking about the weather and checking out possible landing sites..."
  • The Politics of Bandwidth, by Daniel Stedman Jones and James Wilsdon, Demos, 2002 (73 pages):

    "...Alongside the spectrum trading scheme that is now being developed, it is vital that Ofcom reserves a modest share of spectrum as a common resource, which can be used for grassroots innovations such as WiFi. We are not suggesting that the entire range of spectrum frequencies are suddenly deregulated into an anarchistic free-for-all... However, it is perfectly possible to imagine a mixed system, in which the bulk of spectrum is auctioned off to the highest bidder, while smaller slices of spectrum are preserved as common resources on public interest grounds. When analogue broadcasting services, on which terrestrial TV is currently carried, are finally switched off, a share of the spectrum currently used for public service broadcasting - BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4 - should be made available as a spectrum commons.

    "There is a danger that in rushing headlong into creating a market-based system, we repeat precisely the same mistakes that we have seen at the level of the local loop: giving large players sole ownership and control of the infrastructure and limiting the possibilities for dispersed and pluralised forms of innovation..."

  • "WT Act Licensing Policy Manual". Overview of British laws and current policies on radio licensing. See especially "What is a licence?", "Licence Exemption" and "Annex 1 - Summary of licence exempt services for which no licences are required".
  • Communications Act 2003 - According to Ofcom, "The Communications Act has amended the Wireless Telegraphy Act with a new provision on [licence] exemption. This new provision [clause 166] requires that Ofcom must exempt radio stations, equipment or apparatus where satisfied that their use is not likely to involve any undue interference to other legitimate use of radio spectrum or is contrary to an international obligation..."
  • "Regulatory Change in the Convergence Era: The Economic Significance of The UK Communications Act 2003," by David H. Goff, 6th World Media Economics Conference (Montreal, Canada, 12-15 May 2004): "...The Communications Act also closes a loophole in earlier UK spectrum use law by establishing the concept of Recognised Spectrum Access (RSA) that extends regulation to spectrum users who were not obliged to hold licenses under the existing wireless telegraphy laws... Such activities now fall under the purview of the RSA provision and RSA holders will pay for access through a bid process. In the interest of fostering regulation that is non-discriminatory and transparent, the RSA system even applies to previously exempt government uses of the spectrum..."
  • "Statutory Instrument SI 930 1999: The Wireless Telegraphy (Exemption) Regulations 1999" - before the enactment of Communications Act 2003, this authorised exceptions to the law stating that all radio devices must be individually licensed. Initially it did not permit exempt devices to be used in the provision of "telecommunication service...by way of business to another person." However, the Radio Authority organised a public consultation on "Use of Licence-Exempt Spectrum for Provision of Public Telecommunication Services" in October 2001 and found strong support for ending that restriction. See "A Summary of Responses to the Consultation Document on 'The use of Licence Exempt Spectrum for the Provision Of Public Telecommunications Services'" (April 2002). See also "UK advised to approve commercial WLAN spectrum," EuropeMedia, 8 March 2002.
  • "Final Proposals On The Proposed Consolidated Wireless Telegraphy Licence-Exemption Regulation," UK Radiocommunications Agency (September 2002).
  • "Consultation: Wireless Telegraphy Bill," Department of Trade and Industry. Closing date: 28 October 2004: "This consultation seeks views on a Bill to consolidate the existing legislation on 'Wireless Telegraphy.' There are currently six Acts relating to this subject... Replacing the existing legislation with a single Act will make the legislation much easier for all users of radio spectrum to understand and use. Some legal inconsistencies and problems have been removed from the legislation and the text of the Bill written so that it is easier to understand. A main object of the consolidation Bill is to reproduce the same legal effect as the current legislation. Thus no policy changes to the current legislation have been made..."
  • Spectrum Management Strategies for Licence exempt Spectrum: Final Report, commissioned research by Mason Communications Ltd. and DotEcon Ltd., November 2001 (130 pages).
  • Study into Mixed Sharing - Converged Solutions, by A. P. Hulbert and Z. Dobrosavljevic for Roke Manor Research Ltd. (April 2004, 66 pages): "The aim of the study was to examine the viability of arranging for pairs of disparate systems to operate within the same frequency band... The overall conclusion of this study is that... reliable sharing with good coverage for both systems is difficult to achieve. This suggests that some adaptive method of sharing is to be preferred."
  • Radio Spectrum Management: An Independent Review for DTI and HM Treasury by Prof. Martin Cave (March 2002). Recommendations 8.1 and 8.2 are for expanding use of unlicenced spectrum.
  • "Towards a More Flexible Approach to Frequency Management" - workshop presentation by Martin Cave at the University of Tilburg (Netherlands, May 2003).
  • "White space devices and implementation of geolocation databases," UK Office of Communication, 1 September 2011: "...This document summarises our approach to implementing the geolocation method to allow licence exempt wireless devices to access TV white space (TVWS) spectrum, based on the responses to our consultation of November 2010 (the 'November 2010 Consultation')..."
  • "How viewing live BBC TV by Wi-Fi could break licensing laws" Pinsent Masons' Out-Law blog, 7 April 2009: "The BBC has begun an early stage, or beta, trial of live television over Wi-Fi networks. The owners of phones with Wi-Fi connections can go online and see live streaming of BBC One, BBC Two and six other BBC stations, displayed as an image measuring 176 x 144 pixels. Radio stations are also available. The service requires a TV licence and anyone who uses it whose home is not covered by a licence is committing an offence. But under a licensing quirk, so is anyone who plugs their handset into the mains electricity at a site which is not covered by a licence. 'You would have to have a TV licence already if you use your mobile phone to watch live TV,' said a TV Licensing Authority spokesman. 'That home licence covers you unless you plug into the mains.' The location of the mains must also have a TV licence or the law has been broken, the spokesman said. He said that it is the smartphone user, and not the owner of the premises, who is liable for the infringement..."
  • "iTrips, Car Baby's and similar FM radio devices: FAQs," Ofcom: "Will such devices always be illegal? We are working with European standardisation bodies and European administrations to see if there is a way that low power devices operating in the FM band can be made legal by producing a European standard. It might be that individual users would not need a licence to transmit in the FM band. Work on producing a standard is progressing, but it is expected that the use of current devices would not be authorised..."
  • "Setting radio free," by Rupert Goodwins, ZDNet UK, 9 May 2005: "The Open Future for Wireless Communications conference in Cambridge, organised by the Communications Innovation Institute in conjunction with the Cambridge-MIT Institute, saw technologists, regulators, researchers, network operators, equipment and chip manufacturers get together to discuss the future of radio regulation... Professor William Webb, head of research and development at Ofcom, said that... half the spectrum between 100MHz and 1 GHz was unoccupied... The unused portion was mostly military. 'There's a deep suspicion that there's more than enough spectrum for everyone'..."
  • "Heathrow joins trial of RFID scheme," by Dave Friedlos, Computing, 5 July 2007: "Heathrow will become the largest European airport to track passenger baggage using radio frequency identification (RFID) when trials begin in September. Airport operator BAA will install the infrastructure on selected check-in desks to tag bags with RFID chips, which will then be scanned on entry into the baggage system. BAA will compare the read rates of RFID chips with existing barcode readers..."
  • "Data Protection Technical Guidance Radio Frequency Identification," Information Commssioner's Office, 9 August 2006 - how the UK's privacy laws limit the use of RFID
  • "UK UWB/Bluetooth start-up Artimi raises $5m," by David Manners, Electronics Weekly, 21 March 2007: "Artimi will be putting the NFC die into the package of its UWB/Bluetooth chip, the A-150, this year. Next year it is intended to incorporate the NFC radio on the same die as the UWB/Bluetooth radios..."
  • Archive of presentations from the Radiocommunication Authority's "Regulator's Forum on Software-Defined Radio," (London, 15 September 2003).
  • "Colchester seeks to become the first UK high speed wireless Internet town," by Mark Jackson, ISP Review, 19 July 2011: "The Colchester Borough Council in South East England (just above London) has given official approval to a new Digital Strategy that aims to blanket the town in a mix of superfast 40-50Mbps fixed line and 11Mbps Wi-Fi wireless broadband services over the next five years... The Council claims that it 'will not have to make a financial investment in the project' but should benefit from a sustainable income through the provision of access to its street furniture, rooftops and ducting to enable the installation of micro aerials. Further income could also come from online sponsorship and advertising. Wireless operator The Cloud (BSkyB) will take responsibility for turning the borough into an 11Mbps capable Digital Wireless Town..."
  • "Westminster aims for Wi-Fi everywhere," by Iain Thomson, Vnunet.com (via Computer Active), 25 May 2005: "Westminster Council's Wireless City project received a boost today when BT announced that it would be providing the network infrastructure for the initiative. The project seeks to integrate Wi-Fi technology into all areas of the council's responsibilities, providing access for remote workers, linking CCTV and microphones to council headquarters and providing hotspots for consumers... 'This is the first deal of its kind in the UK and will establish Westminster City Council as a world leader for technology and innovation,' said counsellor Simon Milton, leader of Westminster City Council.
  • "London wireless use rockets," by Lisa Kelly, Computing, 14 June 2007: "The availability of wireless networks in central London has increased 160 per cent in the past year, over three times more than the growth experienced in New York. The sixth annual Wireless Security Survey of London, commissioned by security vendor RSA, also finds that the security of access points has improved in the past 12 months. The capital now has 7,130 [public and private] access points, putting it ahead of New York for the first time, which has 6,371 points, a rise of 49 per cent from last year. London also leads when looking just at business access points, having experienced a 180 per cent increase over the past year, compared with a 57 per cent rise in New York..." See also "London Sees Massive Wi-Fi Networks Growth" by Mark Jackson, ISP Review, 15 June 2007.
  • "Wales becomes Wi-Fi mecca," Broadband Finder, 29 May 2007: "Wales has become the Wi-Fi hotspot mecca, with 193 areas per million people - the highest of the UK nations - a study has found. In addition, Wales was found to rank higher than Japan, Germany and the US in terms of Wi-Fi hotspots, results gathered by Ofcom have shown..."
  • " Wi-Fi on the Thames," by Eric Griffith, WiFi Planet, 30 March 2007: "The River Thames' lower reaches in central London are now home to a Wi-Fi hotzone. Service stretches 22 kilometers (about 12.5 miles) along the banks, from Millbank near the Houses of Parliament in the west to the Millennium Dome in Greenwich to the southeast... The 802.11b/g network is open to anyone with a Wi-Fi device, but it isn't free - it's £2.95 (about $5.79US) for one hour, £5.95 for a day, £7.95 for a week, or £9.95 for a month of unlimited service (if it falls within their usage policy)..."
  • "The State of Wireless London" - the evolution of wireless commercial and open access hot-spots in London, by Julian Priest.

Europe - Regional Overview