The Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority has launched a consultation on proposals to review the allocation of radio spectrum as part of its programme to enable the introduction of next generation mobile technology to the Island.
The consultation seeks views from interested parties on the option of moving the existing radio spectrum allocations of some telecoms operators or potentially recommending the cancellation of their radio spectrum licences.
These steps may be necessary to allow Islanders to access future mobile data services that are as high quality and efficient as are available elsewhere.
Radio spectrum is the invisible but essential resource needed to wirelessly connect the devices of users to the networks of telecoms operators. International standards bodies have designated the 3.4-3.8 GHz spectrum band for the provision of new 5G services and encouraged national regulators to make large blocks available within it for allocation.
In Jersey, this spectrum band has previously been licensed for the provision of earlier wireless services. These existing historic allocations prevent the creation of large blocks for new 5G services without changes in allocations – a process termed ‘defragmentation’.
After carefully examining this local situation and considering the approach taken in other comparable locations, the Authority is consulting on provisional plans to defragment the local 3.4-3.8 GHz spectrum band. In a document issued on 15 February, the Authority explains the background to its plans, the reasons for considering changing the spectrum allocations of existing licensed operators and proposed options for doing so.
Tim Ringsdore (pictured), CEO of the Authority said, “One of our important duties as Jersey’s telecoms regulator is ensuring Islanders can access and rely on high-quality next generation mobile services in the future. Providing new 5G services that meet this expectation will require additional radio spectrum, some of which has been historically allocated to existing licensed telecoms operators. After carefully examining the situation, we believe it right to consider requesting these operators move to an alternative part of the spectrum band, or to give-up their allocation. Our consultation explains the reasoning behind our provisional proposals – we’re looking forward to engaging through this process and determining the right approach.”
The proposals for defragmenting the 3.4-3.8 GHz spectrum are available on the Authority’s website with comments welcomed before 31 March 2023. Following this date, the Authority will assess responses to arrive at a final determination.