Consultations

As many PMSE business and equipment owners will already know, last year the Government and Ofcom confirmed the timetable for the clearance of the 700 MHz band to make way for mobile networks. Transitioning out of the band presents two immediate concerns for those operating in the PMSE sector. Firstly, they will lose varying degrees of their equipment’s tuning range, creating a need to retire and replace equipment. Secondly, as a result of this, there will be significant incremental costs imposed on owners. The financial reality of researching, purchasing, transporting, fitting, testing and utilising completely new equipment is a harsh one for many businesses in the sector.

Consultation on Funding for PMSE

In April, Ofcom released a consultation document laying out its initial plans for a support scheme for affected PMSE equipment owners. Full details of their proposed scheme can be found here.

Ofcom received 19 responses to the consultation, many of them endorsing BEIRG’s positions. BEIRG’s response to the consultation can be found here.

Consultation on the 700 MHz Guard Band

In addition, a separate consultation set out proposals to allow PMSE users to be able to operate in the 700 MHz guard band (694 to 703 MHz) beyond 1 May 2020. Ofcom’s consultation document is available here.

BEIRG’s response to this consultation can be found here.

UPDATE AUGUST 2018

Ofcom has published its long awaited response to the consultation on the 700MHz compensation scheme.  The original proposals fell short, and since submitting our consultation response, BEIRG has been lobbying hard to ensure that PMSE is treated fairly.  Our contact with Ofcom, DCMS and Treasury has been frequent and we have a host of new supporters in Parliament.  BEIRG has briefed the Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP Culture spokesmen who have been vocal in their backing for our campaign.

BEIRG would like to thank the UK Government, Ofcom and those from the PMSE community and beyond who have worked so hard to achieve this positive outcome.

On funding, the minimum amount a user will receive is 60% of the estimated replacement cost for a piece of equipment.  This was originally set at 47%, a wholly unacceptable figure.  Equipment modification will be funded – if not more expensive than replacement. Additionally, Ofcom have agreed to include ancillary equipment in the scheme - this was not included in the original proposals. 

Regarding eligibility, the criteria to have at least 50% of the tuning range of a given piece of equipment in the 700 MHz band in order for the equipment to be eligible for compensation has been relaxed to requiring that only some of the tuning range needs be in the 700 MHz band. 

The final change is that equipment purchased before 23rd August 2018 is now eligible, previously it was 17th October 2016.  Ofcom understands that companies could not stop purchasing equipment to use in 700 MHz whilst the process of moving out of the band started and therefore the window had to be much greater. 

Ofcom recognises that additional costs will place a burden on stakeholders and are consulting on a 5% mark up to payments made to claimants.  This closes on 4th October 2018.  BEIRG will be submitting a response to this. 

Ofcom are seeking comments on their proposed rate card which can be found here.  Deadline for submitting responses is 20 September.   This is a very short cut-off date and in our meeting with Ofcom we will be requesting an extension.  Some pieces of equipment are not covered in the document, which we will be highlighting.

BEIRG’s lobbying efforts since submitting our repsonses to Ofcom have paid off – the original proposals fell way short of the mark and have been substantially altered.  The work continues on the next two consultations to ensure as fair a deal as possible for PMSE users.