The Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006
The WT Act 2006 consolidates and provides a number of separate functions. These include:
- Ofcom’s general spectrum functions and duties
- Directions on Ofcom by the Secretary of State
- Requirements for the publication of spectrum plans
- Licensing and exemptions from licensing and the terms and procedures for licensing
- Charging for licences
- Grants of “Recognised Spectrum Access”
- Bidding for licences
- Trading and registers
- Statistical information
- Enforcement and penalties
- Restrictions on apparatus
- Many other supplemental provisions relation to Ofcom’s spectrum management role.
The provisions relating to licensing are explained in more detail in this document. The WT Act also consolidates the provisions for licence fees to be set by regulation (administrative incentive pricing) or by auction to reflect the requirement on Ofcom to have particular regard to promoting spectrum functions. This refers inter alia to:
- efficient use and management of the radio spectrum;
- economic benefit from the use of radio, including consumers;
- innovation; and
- competition in electronic communication services
How spectrum authorisation policy is determined
Ofcom has also to comply with Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union, which are adopted at World Radiocommunication Conferences usually held every three years. This forms the framework globally for regional and national planning. The UK is bound by treaty to these arrangements. These policies set the international high level framework for spectrum allocation, but as explained in the next section, Europe has a number of mechanisms for determining European Allocations and decisions for harmonising use.
Within this international framework, the UK determines UK allocation policy. Ofcom liaises with the UK Government through co-ordination arrangements which are also explained below. From these arrangements Ofcom publishes a series of documents relating to the way spectrum is allocated for use in the UK , which are available on the spectrum portal on our website.
This has now been superseded by Ofcom’s Spectrum Framework Review which was published in November 2004 and other publications e.g. the UK Frequency Allocation Table. The UK Frequency Allocation Table covers the whole radio spectrum from 9 kHz to 275 GHz. It identifies the responsibility for management of those frequency bands or services where management has been agreed, showing whether they are managed by Ofcom, the Ministry of Defence, or another Government department. http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/isu/ukfat/
The policy for authorising use of spectrum is decided on a class by class basis and is largely detailed in the following chapters of this manual. The WT Act includes some new requirements introduced in 2003, which require Ofcom to produce a Frequency Authorisation Plan http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/isu/ukpfa/ detailing all the frequencies and products for which authorisation may be sought.
How policy is publicised
Ofcom is developing various new communication tools that it uses to publicise its stated policy on the use of the radio spectrum. These are published on the Ofcom website.
A series of guidance notes on the radio spectrum are also provided to stakeholders, which give up-to-date information on the respective subjects. http://www.ofcom.org.uk/radiocomms/ifi/