Ofcom picks six for 414MHz band

UK regulator Ofcom on Wednesday announced the six companies who will be able to bid for spectrum allocations in the 414-420MHz band.

Motorola’s services business, T-Mobile UK, broadcast outsourcing specialist Arqiva, airport communications provider AirRadio, Ventura Team Spectrum and the Joint Radio Company (JRC) which provides radio communications for the energy industry, are in the running.

The licence is technology-neutral and foresees that 412-414MHz will be paired with 422-424MHz bands. The licences may be either 2x2MHz or 4x500KHz, depending on the outcome of consultations.

Possible uses include private mobile radio, almost certainly what interests AirRadio and the JRC but also mobile access networks and broadcast technologies of various kinds. The 400-500MHz range has frequently been suggested for wireless broadband access, with 1xEV-DO often proposed.

T-Mobile’s interest is significant, as the carrier owns 450MHz data networks in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The latter uses the FLASH-OFDM technology developed by Flarion before its merger with Qualcomm, while the Czech network uses IPWireless’ UMTS-TDD system. At the Slovak network’s launch, T-Mobile executive VP Lutz Schade remarked that the carrier considered FLASH “optimal for 450” but that future deployments would depend on spectrum availability.

Unlike Vodafone, T-Mobile UK has IMT2000 Extension Band spectrum, including allocations for TDD working. This doesn’t help to clarify what it needs the 414MHz band for, though. Arqiva, for its part, has been involved in trials of Qualcomm’s MediaFLO mobile-TV broadcasting system with BSkyB, which may be a clue to its interest here.


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