radio tower spectrum

Sweden cancels radio spectrum auction over security fears

Sweden has cancelled an auction for radio spectrum frequency over fears that it may need to be used for emergency communications in the wake of heightened tensions in the Baltic region.

The country is reviewing its communication systems for emergency and security services because of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said.

The government cancelled the auction for telecom operators at the end of October at the last minute, saying the frequency band might have to be used for public safety services.

The 700MHz band was previously used for television broadcasts but had been cleared for use by telecoms firms in order to provide better cellphone and mobile broadband connectivity in the Swedish countryside.

Hultqvist said a rise in the number of military exercises and intelligence operations in the region, as well as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, had increased the need for better and more secure communications systems.

“It is clear that the security situation has changed for the worse,” he said.

“We must ensure that the operators involved in public safety, security, health and defence are able to communicate and exchange information in an efficient and secure way.”

Tension in the Baltic region has been rising for several years. Late last month Russian media reported that the country is sharply upgrading the firepower of its Baltic Fleet by adding warships armed with long-range cruise missiles.

Russia blames escalated activity by Nato members for the increased tension. Nato leaders have reinforced the defence of Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia because of Moscow’s takeover of Crimea and its support for Ukrainian separatists.

Sweden, which is not a Nato member, scrambled to mount its biggest submarine hunt since the Cold War in 2014 when the military said there were several credible sightings of possible Russian vessels. Neighbouring Finland has complained of several air space violations by Russian fighter jets.

TV white space use on the Isle of Arran

The UK switched off its last analogue television broadcast in the early hours of 24 October 2012.

TV white space (TVWS) is the name given to the parts of wireless spectrum that were freed up as part of the digital switchover. It can create two-way communications at relatively high-data rates over long distances, enabling connectivity in large open areas where it would be inconvenient to put in new connections.

Nominet, which registers .uk domains, have plans to put this TVWS to good use by providing highly quality broadband coverage for remote parts of Scotland and Wales.

The commercial broadband rollout is touted as the first of its kind in Europe and will start on the Isle of Arran which is off the coast of Western Scotland.

It will initially cover the Machrie area on the west coast, an area which struggles with poor broadband and phone connections, and then extend across the island over the coming months.

One of Arran’s main industries is tourism and improving its connectivity is a key priority as the population swells from 5,000 to 25,000 during peak season.

In addition, as broadband speeds increase elsewhere, websites are becoming more content-rich and internet services are more demanding of bandwidth, making them harder to use and widening the digital divide for remote communities.

Nominet was the first company in the UK to qualify as a TVWS database operator, honing its technology during trials in Oxford. The available set of TVWS frequencies varies, so the database that Nominet has developed performs complex calculations that tell devices which frequencies they can use in that area, at what power and for how long.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet said: “The Arran rollout shows that TV white space can reach places that other technologies cannot, and paves the way for further deployment of this dynamic spectrum management technology. It’s fantastic to see our proven expertise in new technologies like TV white space is now providing the key building block to help remote areas to finally get online.”

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