The telecoms regulator has today granted a request by mobile operator EE (BT) for two new licence variations, which would for example enable them to use 4G (LTE) in the unpaired frequencies of 1899.9 – 1909.9MHz (Spectrum Access 2100MHz licence) and support the new Emergency Services Network.
The two changes (listed below) are part of the Home Office’s (Government) decision in 2015 to appoint EE as the main provider for a new £1.2bn Emergency Services Network (ESN), which was previously run by Airwave at a cost of around £3bn and using TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) technology.
The TETRA network is very slow (dialup style data rates) and expensive, but it also delivers some exceptionally wide coverage (97% of the UK’s landmass) and matching that with 4G is going to require a lot of work (here) and some regulatory tweaks.
EE’s Requested Spectrum Access Licence Changes
* A variation of its Spectrum Access 2100 Hz licence to permit the use of LTE technology in the unpaired frequencies 1899.9 to 1909.9MHz; and
* A variation of its Spectrum Access 800MHz / 2.6GHz and 1800MHz licences to permit the use of mobile transmit frequencies to connect additional temporary base stations to its network at powers up to 31 dBm e.i.r.p in the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands, for use as gateways for the new emergency services network.
In its preliminary decision last year Ofcom found that “granting the requests is an efficient use of the spectrum and would benefit citizens and consumers” and, following a final consultation, these changes have today been given full approval (here). Most of this reflects changes that will only be used by the ESN side of EE’s network (i.e. consumers will use different services).