FM Spectrum Refarming Plan?
I mentioned this in a post the other day - but it was not with any privileged information, just conjecture on my part.
The thrust of the argument until now is that there is not a strong driver for Ofcom to refarm (=re-allocate) the FM band to other services. It is far too small to be useful for mobile phones, and the antennas would be too large. Thus no potential customers means low valuation for the band.
But it could be quite attractive for the nascent IoT (Internet of Things) industry. Typically this requires extremely long range, long battery life, low cost - and thus what is a "small" amount of radio spectrum for the mobile industry can be regarded as quite a large amount of spectrum for the IoT industry.
It may never happen - but this report may suggest that Ofcom might have plans for the VHF band as a whole - and in the limit that could include 88-108, and dare I say it Band III used for DAB (probably the latter is less likely target!).
I've re-evaluated my position that there is no driver to clear the FM band.
Reading about the Rio Tinto driverless freight trains delivering iron ore from pit to port in the Palbara, Western, Australia. Plus Rio Tinto's plan to deploy more robotised drillers for their ore & coal sites, could create a demand for Business Radio frequencies!
Here in the UK's agricultural sector, the era must be close for the everyday use of driverless farm tractors and combine harvesters, relying on radar, sensors and software maps as guides. Surely, that would also create a demand for Business Radio frequencies!
I think OFCOM is on to a good idea by allocating some VHF frequency blocks for Business Radio...
...but this report may suggest that Ofcom might have plans for the VHF band as a whole - and in the limit that could include 88-108...
The frequencies are in the 55-68 MHz, 70.5-71.5 MHz and 80.5-81.5 MHz bands.
I did start my post saying "conjecture on my part."!
It's just that up to now conventional wisdom (including myself) has indicated there is no driver to clear the FM band like there was with the analogue TV bands. The latter are prime mobile phone bands, while the FM band would not be suitable for mobiles (not enough spectrum, antennas too big for handsets).
In the meantime the Internet of Things is developing and the buzz in the industry it's going to be massive. So with this latest announcement about the bands immediately below 88-108, it does not take a giant leap of imagination to suppose that the FM band might be being targeted by Ofcom or IoT industry as part of a bigger picture. It's part of Ofcom's remit to ensure our finite radio spectrum is used with maximum efficiency for the good of UKplc - hence the digitisation of TV and refarming spectrum to mobile.
It still might never happen, but the band does not now see quite as worthless as it once seemed.
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