The long-term supply of radio spectrum for users of wireless microphones and similar equipment has been assured, thanks to new proposals from Ofcom.
Users of this equipment have accessed parts of the spectrum within the frequencies used for terrestrial television broadcasting for many years.
Ofcom set out proposals for more flexible use of this spectrum in the Digital Dividend Review consultation in December 2006.
In response to the consultation, many wireless microphone users and manufacturers expressed concern about their ability to take part in an auction to secure long-term access to the currently used parts of the spectrum.
The new publication provides more detailed options for future access by these spectrum users.
Ofcom is aiming to ensure that existing users continue to have access to the spectrum they need, while trying to squeeze the most efficient use of this finite resource for everyone.
"Ofcom recognises the social, cultural and economic contribution that professional programme makers and wireless microphone users make to the UK," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.
"Our proposals are designed to ensure that this sector continues to have access to the spectrum it needs to allow it to thrive, while ensuring that this valuable and finite resource is used as efficiently as possible."
The consultation proposes that spectrum should be awarded to a 'band manager' with the incentives and expertise to manage the spectrum efficiently for wireless microphone users and others.
However, there are potential complications in choosing who gets to be the band manager.
One option is for Ofcom to choose an organisation to manage the use of the spectrum for these and other users. The licensee would pay fees reflecting the amount of spectrum they use, and have incentives to use it efficiently.
Another option is to award access to the spectrum by auction after a pre-qualification process which ensures that bidders have the skills and expertise needed to manage the spectrum for users in this sector.
Ofcom has also confirmed that it will continue making spectrum available to the many organisations which use shared frequencies available nationwide, which include charities, religious bodies and community organisations.
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