Yet another step towards Geolocation

Wednesday, September 21st 2011

While considering the implementation of WSDs in the TV band, the most important point to be looked into, at this juncture, is how to define a database which is to tell, a device at a given location, which frequency channels and power levels the device could use with out causing harmful interference to other licensed users. Ofcom expected millions of requests to be serviced by a database everyday and servicing each request requires a good amount of data processing.

The interest of the ‘would be’ database providers, the responsibilities of the existing database providers and the requirements that should be placed on the database are all points considered by Ofcom.

Responses to the November 2010 Consultation
7th December 2010 was the closing date for November 2010 Consultation. From the industry stakeholders, community groups, organizations and individuals Ofcom received altogether 40 responses. The responses supported Ofcom’s move to implement geolocation databases. Some stakeholders expressed their concern about protecting the existing services like DTT and PMSE from harmful interference and that point was noted by Ofcom. The regulator published those responses which were not confidential. It was made clear that the duty of Ofcom is to secure optimal use of the spectrum. At the same time the regulator gave assurance that the implementation of WSDs in no way cause harmful interference to the existing licensees.

Ofcom’s General Duties
Under section 3(1) of the Communications Act, it is the primary duty of Ofcom to carry out its functions like furthering the interest of citizens in relation to communication matters and also to further the interest of the consumers in relevant markets by promoting competition where it thinks appropriate. To achieve this goal, Ofcom is required to secure a number of objectives like the desirability of promoting competition, investment and innovation.

Spectrum Duties
It is the duty of Ofcom to achieve the optimal use of the electromagnetic band for wireless telegraphy. It is also the duty of the regulator to safeguard the interest of all persons who wish to use the spectrum for wireless telegraphy.

Apart from this, Ofcom has to consider the extent to which spectrum is available for use of wireless telegraphy and the demand for use of that spectrum. It is also the duty of the regulator to see whether there is any band emissions and if so to apply different regulation to control it. It should pay special attention to the promotion and efficient management and use of spectrum for wireless telegraphy. It should also pay attention to the economic and other benefits arise from the use of spectrum.

Ofcom is also expected to work for the development of innovative services and promote healthy competition in the electronic communications services

Duty in Relation to the Proposed License Exempt Services
Ofcom believes that granting of permission to the license-exempt to have access to these bands would bring about the efficient use of the spectrum. It will bring economic benefits and it will pay way for the emergence of innovative services which will ultimately result in healthy competition. Ofcom has already expressed its reasoning in this respect, in its November 2010 statement.

Conclusion in a nut shell
WSDs will have access to the TV bands provided no harmful interference is caused to any of the existing licensees including DTT and PMSE users or other future licensed users. The initiative taken and the work done by Ofcom coupled with the supportive responses received for the November 2010 consultation, led the regulator to come to the conclusion that implementation of WSDs could be achieved. The progress of the work of defining the geolocation databases, the regulator’s ability to control the emission levels and its authority to even prevent WSDs from transmitting for controlling harmful interference are the main reasons for arriving at this conclusion.

Just like many other respondents to the November 2010 Consultation, Ofcom also wants to prove by practical demonstrations and trials that implementation of geolocation would prevent harmful interference. The first trials being conducted in the UK, in Bute, and Cambridge is closely monitored and the regulator ensures any future trials to prevent harmful interference, all its support. Ofcom is ready to undertake such trials themselves, if occasion arises. From the above cited discussion it is made clear that Ofcom can proceed with the implementation scheme with little risk of harmful interference to existing licensees. It is also acknowledged that many issues regarding the demonstration and placing of WSDs in the market are to be finalized and it is agreed upon that these issues could be discussed in detail in the very near future.

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