U.K. Spectrum Auction Clears Path For Private GSM Nets

U.K. telecomms regulator Ofcom is prepping the ground to auction low power radio frequencies in the 1.8GHz region that paves the way for private GSM networks in office buildings using

August 2, 2005

1 Min Read
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LONDON — U.K. telecomms regulator Ofcom is prepping the ground to auction low power radio frequencies in the 1.8GHz region that paves the way for private GSM networks in office buildings using existing handsets.

Unmodified GSM handsets will also be able to roam on to localized base stations in the new bands, and thus connect them through company PBXs.

Successful bidders for the low power ‘guard band’, in the 1781.7 to 1785MHz and 1876.7 to 1880MHz range — which have till now been reserved as a buffer between GSM cellular and DECT networks — will have to comply with a spectrum mask based on GSM specifications.

Ofcom expects to award between five and ten tradable licences on the basis of equal access to the whole of the bands in the U.K. on a shared basis. No company will be awarded more than of the licenses.

The auction will be the first to award frequencies on a “technology and application -– neutral basis” since the regulator’s spectrum framework review last year brought in the policy of allowing license winners to use the band as they choose, within certain criteria.Operators will be able to build up new mobile networks using exiting IP infrastructure and low power pico-GSM basestations.

One company that has already shown its hand is Coffee Telecom, founded in 2003 for just such an opportunity. The company says that if successful, it would create ‘thousands of Coffee Zones’ in hotels, railway stations, shopping centres, and similar places.

The service is likely to offer consumers mobile calls at a price in line with fixed lines. Coffee Telecom also suggests that unlike BT's emerging Fusion fixed-mobile convergence offering, and future Wi-Fi based converged services, networks based on the low-power frequencies would not need dual-mode handsets.

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