The desirable propagation characteristics of spectrum in the UHF band traditionally used for broadcasting services in conjunction with the continuing growth of the internet and increasing demand for broadband services are fuelling demand for secondary usage of the UHF band by an ever larger array of devices. In particular, there has been sustained interest in, and increasing regulatory support for the development and use of ‘white space’ devices that are intended to provide wireless broadband services. Despite opposition from broadcasters, regulators in several countries have tended to authorise white space devices on a secondary or ‘unlicensed’ basis. However, as regulators reallocate UHF spectrum released by the digital switchover to new services requiring a high degree of licence certainty (e.g. cellular networks) the nature of the relationship between the new licensees and unlicensed white space users is likely to become much more challenging. What becomes of entrenched secondary usage rights if additional broadcast spectrum is eventually reallocated to telecommunications and re-licensed on far more exclusive conditions than those emerging for white space devices operating on a secondary basis to broadcasting services? As shown by the PMSE controversy in the United Kingdom, well-established secondary users may have de facto rights that have to be taken into account when valuable spectrum is reallocated to a new primary use (in that case, from broadcasting to telecommunications). If white space devices achieve the goals of their proponents and become an important component of the national broadband infrastructure, their wide-spread deployment could have a paradoxical impact on the ability of regulators to reallocate the primary use of spectrum in the UHF band from broadcasting to higher value uses. While white space devices have not been authorised to operate in the UHF band in Australia, this article considers Australian regulatory arrangements in light of this issue and suggests licensing reforms required to manage competing white space usage rights in the future. We do so because regulators in many regions and countries will be confronted by the challenge of establishing regulatory arrangements for white space devices that are technically sustainable and economically efficient over the short, medium and longer terms.
|Title of host publication||TV White Space Spectrum Technologies|
|Subtitle of host publication||Regulations, Standards, and Applications|
|Editors||Rashid A Saeed, Stephen J Shellhammer|
|Place of Publication||United States|
|Number of pages||26|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|