Ofcom has been consulting on introducing spectrum pricing to the aeronautical and maritime sectors. We are doing this because radio spectrum is a scarce and valuable resource and lots of different users want to use it. It’s important that it is managed as efficiently as possible, because then society as a whole can get the most out of the finite amount available.
One of the ways that we try to achieve this is by charging users for the spectrum – or airwaves – they use. This already includes a huge array of public and private sector users, including MOD, NHS, ambulance, police and taxi firms. But we recognise the special position of safety of life charities, which is why they receive a 50 per cent discount on their current fees.
What we are proposing in the maritime case is simply to change the ways fees are worked out so that they aren’t based on the admin costs of issuing a licence, but on how much spectrum is used. Under our proposals the RNLI might actually pay less than they do now. We estimate that they could pay around £20,000 compared to the £40,000 that they currently pay.
The consultation closed at the end of last month. Ofcom will now take stock of the responses, and any updates will be posted on the Ofcom website (www.ofcom.org.uk).