Releasing spectrum and facilitating spectrum trading top the list of UK media regulator Ofcom's nine priorities for 2006.
Ofcom said it would release spectrum and facilitate trading as well as "raise awareness of the opportunities offered by a more market-led approach to spectrum management".
There will be a programme of spectrum awards, including the bands at 412-414 MHz, 422-424 MHz, 872-876 MHz, 917-921 MHz and part of the L-Band spectrum (1452-1492 MHz), as well as preparation for the award of the UHF spectrum released by digital switchover.
Last month Ofcom announced a year-long investigation into options for liberated spectrum following digital switchover. Ofcom said its digital dividend review would examine all the options, "including the potential for a large amount of spectrum to be released for wholly new services".
In July Ofcom's chief operating officer, Ed Richards, said in spectrum regulation there was now a "clear move towards a comprehensive liberalisation and trading regime, away from a more command and control model to one in which companies and ultimately consumers will determine the most valuable uses of spectrum".
Among Ofcom's other priorities in for 2006 are a financial review of Channel 4 and the continued development of its proposals for a new publicy funded public service broadcaster.
Ofcom said it would look closely at "how new methods of delivering internet and media content are creating opportunities for innovation and examining the potential public benefits".
Ofcom's draft annual plan, now the subject of a consultation, shows an operating budget for 2006/7 of £129.5m—5% lower in real terms than the 2005/6 budget and 12% lower in real terms than the operating budget for 2004/5.
Ofcom CEO Stephen Carter said: "The communications sector continues to develop at an encouraging pace. Our priorities reflect our continuing commitment to liberalise and deregulate where possible."
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