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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Ofcom starts radio spectrum sale
View across the Lake District
Spectrum changes could bring broadband internet to remote areas
A 40 megahertz range of the airwaves will be sold next year, for use in wireless and mobile communications.

Radio spectrum plays a vital role in broadcast media and telecommunications, as well as being essential to emergency services and air traffic control.

Regulator Ofcom said the frequencies could be used for mobile multimedia services, broadband wireless internet access or satellite digital radio.

It said a number of organisations had already expressed an interest.

Huge investment

The technology and application neutral licences will be auctioned off by March 2007.

A similar auction of third-generation (3G licences) in 2000 raised 22.5bn, but left many operators struggling to find a return on their huge investments.

Ofcom has previously said it will take these issues into account when conducting the auctions.

About a third of the spectrum is currently owned by the military, but Ofcom has plans for a gradual sell-off of more than 400MHz of the remainder over the next few years - more than the total spectrum currently used for mobile telecoms.

Buyers will be able to trade the licences with each other, with an initial minimum period of 15 years.

Possible uses for the spectrum include mobile TV services using DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) or DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) technologies and broadband wireless access using WiMAX technology.

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