The Spectrum Plan for the London 2012 Games - Statement
Statement published 19 October 2009
1.1 This Statement sets out our spectrum plan for wireless communications at the London 2012 Games. It also includes high-level approaches to licensing (authorisation) and interference management.
1.2 Ofcom is responsible for organising a full spectrum plan for the London 2012 Games, for arranging all the licences in good time in support of the plan and for ensuring all key wireless services are kept free from harmful interference. Our consultation document of May 2009 set out a draft spectrum plan to meet the Government's spectrum guarantees to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with minimum disruption to other users.
1.3 At the same time, we recognise and acknowledge the importance of services not covered by the Government's spectrum guarantees to the success of the London 2012 Games and the importance of day-to-day services. We are working to ensure that any spectrum requirements generated because of the unique nature of the London 2012 Games, but not covered by the guarantees, are met and coordinated with day-to-day spectrum uses to the greatest extent possible.
1.4 We plan to award spectrum in the next year or so to a band manager with obligations to programme-making and special events (PMSE) users. We have already indicated that we will need access to some of the spectrum to be awarded to meet the needs of the London 2012 Games. Applicants for the licence will need to take account of this along with any requirements imposed in the licence to ensure efficient coordination between shared use of the same spectrum.
1.5 We consulted on a draft spectrum plan on 27 May 2009. Overall, respondents to the consultation were broadly supportive of our assumptions and of our planned approach to spectrum management for the London 2012 Games.
1.6 Respondents to the consultation made useful points and suggestions, which we have taken into account in publishing this revised spectrum plan. These will help us ensure that we will meet the needs of the guaranteed users at the London 2012 Games. We identify the changes in the body of the document, including our seeking access to an additional band for wireless cameras in the 2000 MHz to 4000 MHz range and clarification of the channels that will be available for wireless microphones and in-ear monitors (IEMs).
1.7 We also recognise that some details of the spectrum plan must continue to evolve over time as details of demand and supply change for each of the London 2012 Games venues.
1.8 The sources of spectrum identified in the consultation continue to be available. Several respondents stressed the importance of London 2012 Games spectrum users being able to access all of these bands in order to ensure there is enough capacity: Ofcom agrees with this view. Further information is provided in our Statement on some bands that were not considered in the draft plan namely 385-399.9 MHz, 406.1-430 MHz and 3400-3600 MHz.
1.9 The Government's Digital Britain Final Report, published on 16 June 2009, mentioned two bands relevant to the London 2012 Games spectrum plan: 2600 MHz and 800 MHz. The proposals and their timing do not mean that Ofcom will need to change the approach to these bands set out in the consultation paper, but we may need to adapt the Olympics spectrum plan as the position becomes clearer.
Meeting spectrum demand
Private Mobile Radio, Talkback and Telemetry
1.10 Most demand for private mobile radio (PMR) will be met by the networks being built for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) or extended for the emergency and public safety services (E&PSS). Demand outside these networks will be met from spectrum in the normal bands for PMR, talkback and telemetry. Ofcom will work closely with stakeholders to ensure the spectrum is available in the range 430 MHz to 478 MHz to meet these needs. However, it is our expectation that where requirements can be met from the LOCOG network stakeholders will adopt this solution.
Wireless microphones and in-ear monitors
1.11 Most wireless microphones will only operate in UHF Bands IV and V, sharing with analogue and digital terrestrial television (DTT). The cleared spectrum available as a result of the switchover to DTT, including the 800 MHz band, should be available for the London 2012 Games. As we said in the consultation, even modest improvements in the efficiency with which this spectrum is used compared to normal practice (e.g. as achieved during the London stages of the 2007 Tour de France) would ensure the peak demand of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies could be met with the spectrum that will be available.
1.12 Our assumption that sufficient spectrum would be available for wireless microphones and IEMs was based on our knowledge of available technologies and the density with which wireless microphones and IEMs can be deployed. Some respondents supported this assumption; others contested it. We will conduct further technical investigations to test and confirm our assumptions about what will be feasible. In the meantime we remain confident that the spectrum available will be adequate to meet peak demand for wireless microphones and IEMs. Except for some channels between Channels 22 and 30, the interleaved spectrum and 600 MHz band will be available for wireless microphones and IEMs as will Channels 42 and 68.
1.13 In our consultation we suggested that there would be a high level of demand for spectrum for wireless cameras at the London 2012 Games. The spectrum plan identified capacity that could be made available by obtaining access to spectrum from UK public sector bodies - notably the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - and these bodies have committed to make some of the spectrum they hold available for temporary use for the London 2012 Games subject to necessary arrangements to ensure that essential defence and safety of life services are protected. Ofcom is also working with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to make available capacity in spectrum used for maritime services.
1.14 The preference of most respondents is for capacity between 2000 MHz and 4000 MHz; but to meet the highest level of likely demand Ofcom will make spectrum at 7000 MHz, 10 GHz and above available for wireless cameras. Ofcom believes that the demand for spectrum for wireless cameras at frequencies commonly used by broadcasters and for which equipment is readily available - i.e. 2000 MHz to 4000 MHz, and 7000 MHz - can be met. We will continue to work closely with broadcasters and manufacturers to encourage the use of high frequencies (e.g. frequencies above 7000 MHz) and will make higher-frequency spectrum available to those who are willing and able to use it.
1.15 The 3400-3600 MHz band was not included in the consultation because it forms part of the MOD's Defence Spectrum Strategy. Ofcom thinks that access to this band will be very important to meeting the demand for spectrum in the 2000 to 4000 MHz range for wireless cameras for the London 2012 Games. The MOD has said that it will release some spectrum from within the band by September 2010. Our spectrum plan does not change the MOD's Defence Spectrum Strategy, but it may be necessary to acquire spectrum released by the MOD before the London 2012 Games commences from the market to ensure the availability of spectrum for the London 2012 Games.
1.16 There was general agreement with Ofcom's proposal to establish special licensing arrangements for users covered by the Government's spectrum guarantees and to receive such applications through the on-line Rate Card system that will be operated by LOCOG. Ofcom confirms that special licensing arrangements will be established for the London 2012 Games and applications from users covered by the guarantees will be received through the LOCOG Rate Card system.
1.17 Respondents to the consultation made important observations about the need for proper provision of licensing arrangements for both Olympic Family members and other stakeholders. They also noted that such arrangements should avoid the inconvenience and confusion that could arise from requiring stakeholders to seek spectrum authorisation from a number of different sources. Dealing with these issues will require effective cooperation between Ofcom and the new band manager with obligations to PMSE users, which will replace our current licensing arrangements for PMSE and about the arrangements for which we have recently consulted.
1.18 Respondents to the most recent consultation on proposals for the band manager with obligations to PMSE users, which closed on 7 September 2009, have provided valuable input on licensing issues for the London 2012 Games. Until we have fully considered both sets of responses we believe it inappropriate to reach a definitive view about licensing arrangements for the London 2012 Games for all stakeholders. We will set out our conclusions on the licensing arrangements for the London 2012 Games in due course.
Satellite News Gathering
1.19 We expect the demand for satellite news gathering (SNG) to be high at London 2012 Games venues. In the UK there are some geographic restrictions on SNG use in close proximity to airports and other sensitive sites, although the impact of such restrictions on SNG use within Olympic venues is likely to be minimal. It is our normal practice to require that each SNG terminal deployment is cleared and authorised by Ofcom and an online tool is provided for this purpose. However, for the London 2012 Games we plan to pre-coordinate 11 GHz and 14 GHz SNG operations at Olympic venues in order to streamline our licensing processes and support the very rapid deployment of SNG within London 2012 Games venues. Licences to enable Olympic Family members to deploy SNG within London 2012 Games venues will be available through the LOCOG Rate Card in advance of the London 2012 Games.
Interference management and enforcement
Pre-testing, tagging and test events programmes
1.20 Mitigating the risk of harmful radio interference is a key component of our plans for the London 2012 Games.
1.21 We agree with the view expressed in response to the consultation that the vast majority of interference is not caused deliberately, but arises through non-conformity with technical standards or technical licence conditions and that because of this it is vitally important to implement an effective equipment testing service ahead of the London 2012 Games. For hand-portable equipment, the best way to deliver a pre-testing and tagging service is by means of well equipped, on-site laboratories, with on-site visits to inspect key radio installations.
Deployment of interference management engineers
1.22 We believe that it is important to maintain a presence throughout the London 2012 Games in case we are called upon to deal with cases of harmful radio interference. Venue-based offices for our field force of interference management engineers and their equipment for carrying out interference resolution will be valuable in reducing response times to a minimum.
1.23 We are examining the feasibility of establishing a network of sensors both within key London 2012 Games venues and outside these venues to allow us to rapidly locate the position of any interfering radio signal sources. While establishing the final location of any interfering radio signal sources will always require an experienced spectrum engineer, we hope that a position location network will allow us to significantly reduce the time required to resolve any radio interference issues that may arise.
1.24 We believe that the plan delivers the spectrum which will be required to meet the Government's guarantees. We do not expect to need to source significant further spectrum for the London 2012 Games; and we will base our detailed planning for licensing and operations on the plan in this Statement. Some details of the spectrum plan for the London 2012 Games may change over time as demand becomes clearer and the availability of spectrum changes. However, our ability to accommodate new demands for spectrum not identified in this plan is very limited.
1.25 The technical work has started to clarify the detail of the access that London 2012 Games users will have to spectrum, including at a venue-specific level.
1.26 Further information on our next steps is set out in section 2.
UK Government endorsement
1.27 The Cabinet Official Committee on UK Spectrum Strategy (UKSSC) has asked us to publish the following endorsement of this Statement on behalf of the Government:
"UKSSC has been fully consulted with regard to this Statement. It endorses the content and the spectrum plan laid out by Ofcom and welcomes the steps it proposes to take to meet the spectrum guarantees given by the Government in support of the London 2012 Games."
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