The economic value of spectrum use in the UK worth over GBP50 billion per annum

Analysys Mason’s latest study entitled ‘Impact of radio spectrum on the UK economy and factors influencing future spectrum demand’ offers insight into the value of spectrum use to the UK economy, key changes in spectrum use and requirements that can be expected by 2020 and the implications for policy-making, including the UK Government’s plan to release 500MHz of spectrum from public-sector use for commercial use by 2020.

The study was commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

According to the study, the economic value of spectrum use was GBP52 billion in 2011, an increase of 25% in real terms since 2006, the last time a similar study was undertaken.

The study also shows mobile services accounting for nearly 60% of this value, while broadcasting accounts for a further 20%. Other sectors considered include the use of Wi-Fi as a substitute for mobile broadband, microwave links, satellite links and private mobile radio.

Another key finding is that public mobile communications supports a supply chain of infrastructure, equipment, applications and content providers generating annual revenues of around GBP20 billion and supporting 75, 000 jobs, while broadcasting services support a supply chain worth around GBP16 billion a year and supporting 40, 000 jobs.

“Ongoing market, technical and commercial trends all point towards continued growth in the public mobile sector, suggesting its importance to the UK economy will continue to increase,” explains Philip Bates, Senior Manager at Analysys Mason and lead author of the report.

“The licence-exempt sector (including Wi-Fi, RFID and M2M (Machine-to-Machine)) applications and many more uses of short-range devices) is becoming increasingly diverse, and innovators are emerging in the UK offering new ways to deliver licence-exempt services.”

Now that digital switchover is completed, the study suggests that further consideration should be given on when and how the digital terrestrial TV platform can be upgraded to deliver more HD content, while network improvements could also be made to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio platforms.

The Analysys Mason study concludes with a series of comments on the implications of the findings for activities to support the future growth of the mobile sector (and other sectors that will be influenced by growth in the mobile sector), upgrades to digital terrestrial TV and radio platforms, better sharing of under-utilised spectrum and finally the release of public sector spectrum.

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