Later this week, voters across the United Kingdom will decide whether they wish to remain a member of the European Union. For better or worse, the result could have a major impact on many areas of UK governance that have been bound by EU legislation.

I was recently approached by Dugie Standeford of Policy Tracker to provide my opinion on what the impact of leaving the EU could be on the UK’s use of harmonised spectrum (once any negotiation period had passed and withdrawal had been agreed).

It is this: whilst the UK may be able to take a different approach to spectrum decisions to the rest of the EU, I can’t think of any where it would want to do so.

Taking the example of Decision 2007/98/EC, which harmonises the use of spectrum in the 2GHz bands for mobile satellite services that have yet to emerge, there are already plans in motion in the UK for operators to implement such services.

But more importantly, satellite services by their very nature must be regulated at an international level, therefore I doubt the UK would change direction even when it is not formally bound by the EU Decisions.

Going it alone in our allocation and use of spectrum would also ultimately lead to equipment becoming more expensive to implement, raise the risk of cross-border interference, and reduce the long-term certainty around allocations. At most we’ll see some minor relaxation of certain restrictions on the use of spectrum, or in implementation timelines.

Finally, the UK will likely remain a member of — and play an active role in — CEPT. This is the body that is responsible for much of the detailed spectrum harmonisation efforts we see in European countries, but it is not restricted to EU countries alone. As such, the UK’s involvement in these discussions will not disappear — and there’s no reason to think the government or regulators would change that.

Therefore, whilst it remains one of the most important political choices the country has been presented with in a long time, the outcome of this week’s referendum is unlikely to significantly impact the UKs of harmonised spectrum.

The full article is available to read here.

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