Department for Science, Innovation and Technology publishes Spectrum Statement

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology publishes Spectrum Statement

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) have published their Spectrum Statement, which sets out its strategic vision and principles for spectrum policy in the UK.

The focus of this Statement is on innovation in the use and management of spectrum in order to create greater opportunities for growth and societal benefits through increased access to spectrum.

With spectrum being a valuable finite resource, the government has a strong overarching interest in ensuring that spectrum policy and the legislative framework support the maximisation of value from spectrum for the nation, while supporting wider policy objectives. While Ofcom is independently responsible for spectrum management, the government sets out strategic priorities for Ofcom to consider in its spectrum management functions.

Previously, in the 2014 Spectrum Strategy, UK government set an objective to double the annual economic contribution of spectrum by 2025. The DSIT finds that the value of spectrum has grown substantially in recent years and provides the estimates of the Gross Value Added (GVA) generated by sectors that critically depend on spectrum, such as mobile, Wi-Fi and satellite (these estimates are based on the research carried out by Frontier Economics and LS telcom). It notes that in other sectors (e.g. Defence or Space), while there is direct economic value, there are also important wider social and non-economic benefits, which are difficult to quantify. The importance of spectrum to critical services, such as earth observation and defence, means that the societal and non-economic benefits often need to be compared against direct economic and commercial benefits. In light of that, the DSIT states: “we do not believe that a flat target to increase the overall value of spectrum will drive value maximisation … and a more progressive vision is called for.”

In its Spectrum Statement, the DSIT sets out the following policy principles and corresponding actions:


Spectrum Policy Principle

DSIT actions


Spectrum is a strategic asset and an important enabler for a range of government policy objectives.

DSIT will ensure that government interests are duly considered in the overall approach to spectrum policy. This will be achieved through coordination between government and Ofcom, with strategic management  through government Directions where necessary and appropriate.


Spectrum management should promote innovation and investment alongside consumer-focused outcomes.

DSIT will work with Ofcom to ensure that government-sponsored innovation programmes have a clear understanding of spectrum options early in the development process. The need for spectrum-focused innovation support will also be considered, including opportunities to maximise the value generated through Ofcom’s spectrum sandboxes.


Spectrum management should ensure efficient and optimum use and be linked to actual usage with users empowered to make decisions where appropriate.

DSIT will continue to work closely with Ofcom and industry to identify areas where the government can support the repurposing of spectrum to technologies or services which maximise the efficiency of spectrum use and the wider benefits to the UK.


Spectrum management should itself take best advantage of innovation as well as supporting innovation in the services which use spectrum.

DSIT will keep the spectrum legislative framework under review and continue to work with Ofcom to ensure it has the necessary powers to adopt innovative approaches to spectrum management, where appropriate. This will include a more detailed consideration of future market and technological changes and the potential application of innovative spectrum management tools.


The Spectrum Statement is published alongside the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which sets out a new ambition that the UK should have nationwide coverage of standalone 5G to all populated areas by 2030. The DSIT notes that access to suitable spectrum on appropriate terms is critical to the realisation of this ambition. It highlights the role of market mechanisms (spectrum pricing, auctions and spectrum trading) in promoting the efficient use of existing mobile spectrum holdings and opportunities to enhance shared spectrum access in the UK.

With regards to spectrum pricing/ Annual Licence Fees (ALFs) for mobile spectrum, the DSIT acknowledges stakeholders’ views that ALFs present significant costs to industry. Given the evolving market conditions and the importance of spectrum to the deployment of mobile networks, the DSIT has asked Ofcom to review and set out a clear and forward looking rationale for its approach to setting mobile spectrum fees before the end of 2023.

In relation to spectrum sharing, the DSIT notes that spectrum sharing will be increasingly important for mobile networks going forward. It highlights the importance of enhanced spectrum sharing arrangements to support the scaling up of enterprise networks and asks Ofcom to further explore options to accelerate the automation of Shared Access Licence (SAL) band licensing.

Finally, the Spectrum Statement also looks ahead to potential future spectrum requirements for 6G.

Frontier Economics (together with LS telcom) supported the DSIT in developing its Spectrum Statement. Please click here to read the full report.

For more information, please contact us or at  +44 (0) 20 7031 7000.



Ensuring Optimal Value from Spectrum