Two influential regulators focus on local licensing and innovation
Jul 29, 2021 by Toby Youell


Bands3.3 - 3.8 GHz (2021), 26 GHz (2021), 1800 MHz (2021), 2.3 GHz (2021)
Tags1800 MHz, 2.3 GHz, 26 GHz, 3.3 - 3.8 GHz, Germany, UK, United Kingdom

Innovation often occurs in different places at roughly the same time. Electromagnetic induction, for example, was discovered in both Britain and the US independently in the early 19th century.

Frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology was also developed separately by several engineers in the first half of the 20th century, including Austrian-born American actor Hedy Lamarr.

In a similar vein, regulators in both the UK and Germany seem to have discovered the value of local licensing and spectrum innovation more or less simultaneously.

Germany has devoted a quarter of its prime 3.5 GHz band 5G spectrum for hyper-local licences, although it is now thinking about allowing mobile network operators to use the 3.7—3.8 GHz band. It has also made the entire 26 GHz band (24.25—27.5 GHz) available for local broadband and has no further plans for these frequencies.

UK regulator Ofcom, meanwhile, has introduced local licensing into parts of several high-profile bands: 3.8—4.2 GHz, 1800 MHz, 2.3 GHz and 26 GHz. It has also brought in a use-it-or-share-it mechanism for operators using other standard mobile bands. Its spectrum management strategy for the 2020s emphasises wireless innovation, licensing to fit both local and national services and the promotion of spectrum sharing.

Spectrum policy, apparently, is not immune from the multiple discovery phenomenon.

More information is available in our newly-updated profiles of spectrum policy in Germany and the UK, available as part of the Spectrum Research Service.•