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Thursday, December 14, 2006

UK 2GHz band.... so just what does "designated" mean?

As you've probably read elsewhere, Ofcom is auctioning off large chunks of prime spectrum in the 2.0-2.6GHz range.

Various commentators have already highlighted the likelihood of BT bidding for some spectrum for WiMAX use, as well as the likely wrangles over whether it should be preserved for 3G UMTS instead.

Now, theoretically, according to EU law, chunks of this spectrum is "designated" for 3G. But on the other hand, Ofcom has already been a leader in pushing "spectrum neutrality" and appears to want to make this a test case for much of the rest of Europe. Other European regulators are split on the issue - some are very much cellular-driven, others like the idea of neutrality on the grounds of competition. It seems probable that the immediate short-term beneficiaries will be lawyers.

I suspect that semantics may well come into play. There seems to me to be a clear distinction between the terms "designated for..." ; "designated exclusively for...." and "designated irrevocably & exclusively for...."

The ITU's definition of the verb "to designate" is less than helpful on the matter:
"To identify a set of characters that are to be represented, in some cases immediately and in others on the occurrence of a further control function, in a prescribed manner."

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