Amateur Radio Consultations
Ofcom is planning a number of policy initiatives in the next few months that will have a direct effect on amateur radio in the UK. If you want to keep up to date, you can sign up for updates on the Ofcom website at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/subscribe/select_list.htm.
Public Sector Spectrum Release is part of a commitment by government to release 500 MHz of public sector spectrum by 2020. As part of these plans, the Ministry of Defence is looking at releasing 40 MHz of spectrum between 2350 and 2390 MHz and an additional 150 MHz of spectrum above 3410 MHz for new civil uses. These changes will have implications for amateur allocations (notably TV repeaters) in the release bands and may also have an impact on uses in the adjacent bands from 2310 to 2350 MHz; 2390 to 2400 MHz and 3400 to 3410 MHz.
Earlier this year Ofcom invited a group of Amateur TV repeater users to Baldock to participate in testing to determine what the impact might be in the adjacent bands. Ofcom plans to publish a consultation for amateurs about any potential changes within the next month. This will be followed later this year by a statement giving amateurs reasonable notice of any licence changes necessary. Ofcom then aims to issue a full consultation in due course.
Ofcom is also to consult on the release of three tranches of spectrum in Band 1, Low Band and Mid Band respectively. One proposal is that 1 MHz of Mid-Band (146 to 147 MHz, so adjacent to the existing allocation in the 2m band) could be allocated to Amateur Radio. The consultation will be published at the end of May 2013. It will be aimed at all mobile users, including business radio, maritime, PMSE as well as amateurs.
Finally, Ofcom wants to review the terms and conditions of the amateur licence. The current form of the licence has been around for seven years now and Ofcom is keen to ensure that it continues to meet its regulatory needs as well as the needs of licensees. The licence needs to be updated anyway to reflect the changes in allocations agreed at WRC12. That process is at an early stage and the consultation will be published early next year.
All of these consultations will result in changes to the amateur licence. To minimise disruption to licensees, Ofcom intends to effect all of the changes at the same time, probably in summer 2014.