Examination of Witness (Questions 140-151)|
MONDAY 27 MAY 2002
140. I did not mean to provoke Baroness Cohen
again! We are told that you are consulting on the application
to satellite services of the Recognised Spectrum Access created
by clauses 115 to 118. What are you consulting about?
(Mr Goddard) We will be consulting on the details
of how it might apply. There are a lot of questions as to whether
it applies to certain frequency bands, certain services, whether
it is the fixed satellite service, the broadcasting satellite
service, and how the RSA would be defined in the technical details
of this very complex area. There are a lot of detailed questions
in addition to what is on the face of the draft legislation.
141. With whom are you consulting? With the
satellite services themselves?
(Mr Goddard) It is an open consultation for any interested
parties to comment, whether it is satellite broadcasters, satellite
manufacturers, providers of satellite telecommunication services,
or users of those services.
142. Why would they want to consult with you,
because you are thinking of asking them for some money? Why are
(Mr Goddard) In the same way we did with spectrum
pricing, we are proposing to add a new tool to our tool kit for
managing radio spectrum. We have always worked on the principle
of consulting widely with the industry before going down a fairly
innovative and novel step in this case. Quite simply we do not
believe we know all the answers to all the questions so we direct
those questions to those who might be better informed than ourselves.
143. Is this an area where you think there will
be some substantial re-writing of the Bill once you have had your
(Mr Goddard) It is difficult to say at this stage.
We believe that the drafting at the moment would provide the framework
for this new concept of Recognised Spectrum Access. It is debatable
as to how the comments will go. Effectively, we are offering the
operator of a satellite service a service from the regulator for
which we propose there will be a fee in the same way there is
in licensing and the WT Act. It is simply comparable to that.
144. Would it involve bringing the satellite
operators into the ambit of the regulator in a way that they had
not been before, either voluntarily or compulsorily?
(Mr Goddard) Yes, we certainly do not see Recognised
Spectrum Access as being compulsory. At the moment the satellite
operator is totally outside the remit of the Wireless Telegraphy
Act. There is a question of to what extent we take into account
the signals from the satellite service, whether we provide a service
by building them into our calculation, whether we share it with
other users of the spectrum, and that is an area we think needs
addressing. Where they do share with other services, we think
there is an unfairness at the moment for the satellite operator
and perhaps the user of terrestrial services who are paying through
spectrum pricing, and perhaps we will have spectrum which is more
congested than it would be were it not for the satellite operators.
145. I think these negotiations are going to
be very interesting.
(Mr Goddard) I think they will be very interesting
and very detailed.
146. I think I will ask my second question first
because I have got two questions. Intellectwhich was formerly
the Federation of the Electronics Industryhas put it to
us that commercial services should be permitted in licence-exempt
spectrum. They see this as a way forward for broadband in rural
areas. They tell us you are consulting them on this. What is the
state of play? Who are you consulting and what changes to the
draft Bill might the results of the consultation involve?
(Mr Goddard) The state of play is that the consultation
period has closed and the responses are being evaluated. I do
not know specifically who has responded but, again, it was an
open consultation for any sectors of the industrymanufacturers,
potential users, whateverto respond. The challenge really
is where we have licence-exempt spectrum there are no guarantees.
If the frequency band fills up with services there could be congestion
and interference and therefore it is a difficult question to say
in those circumstances should we allow public services rather
than private services to operate? That is the issue. We are at
the stage now of evaluating the responses of that consultation.
I do not believe that if Ministers took a decision to go down
the route of allowing public services in licence-exempt spectrum
it would need any changes in the legislation.
147. Then it is back to put my consumer hat
on, as I always do. You heard the question earlier, it is the
same question: will OFCOM be better placed than your agency to
ensure that remote areas get better representation?
(Mr Goddard) The basic answer is there is no difference
fundamentally to where we are now. If OFCOM as a whole developed
a particular policy in that area, certainly that would have a
much more direct influence on how we manage the spectrum. We have
always worked on the principle of facilitating access to spectrum
by a lot of different alternatives for industry and users to take
up. That has been equally applicable in all areas.
148. My final questionbecause you will
have been able to rehearse your answer to some extentis
do you as a person think that is satisfactory?
(Mr Goddard) From where I sit in the Radiocommunications
149. Can I come back to the spectrum trading.
The Bill team have given us have some helpful evidence on international
comparisons, which you presumably look at all the time. Where
do you think is good practice and where do you think is bad practice
and what do you think we should be looking for when we look at
the Bill as it currently stands?
(Mr Goddard) I do not think there is a straightforward
answer in terms of the draft legislation as such. When we come
to the detailed application of spectrum trading in particular
areas, we have to look very carefully at those international comparisons
because obviously the situation in the UK adjacent to all the
other EU countries is very different to the situation in Australia
or even in the United States. We would look at practice in other
countries to see how exactly they have defined the units of spectrum
and what constraints they have put on the spectrum. We could envisage
a very simple trading where it was transfer of licences. In other
areas we may want to back off from specific definitions of what
the spectrum should be used for and talking simply about a bloc
of spectrum and allowing freedom and choice by the industry as
to how it is used. We then have to balance that freedom with what
commitments we have internationally and particularly at the European
150. How much of that should be left to OFCOM
as the experts and how much of that should be in terms of social
(Mr Goddard) I would envisage with OFCOM it willas
regulators have done in many other areasdevelop ideas,
put those out for consultation and then react to the response
given. I do not think there will be any question of OFCOM trying
to second-guess what is the best way forward. It can use its expertise
and experience in other countries to make proposals, consult on
those proposals and in the light of the feedback then develop
151. Does the Bill team have any clarification?
(Mr Susman) No, but obviously we will be contributing
to the paper that has been asked for.