Spectrum Planning

Spectrum planning is the process of establishing the spectrum management goals for the future. This process is a key enabler for the necessary frameworks within which spectrum is made available for the constantly evolving radio spectrum needs.

In an environment where the rate of technology change is increasing, the challenge for spectrum managers is to draw adaptive spectrum management frameworks that facilitate changes in spectrum use. Meeting this challenge requires careful planning about the myriad possibilities of spectrum use.

Spectrum management is about efficient use of scare resources and allocation of new and existing spectrum to highest societal benefit. It is also about global or regional coordination and harmonisation of spectrum usage to decrease cost of technology by increasing economies of scale hereby maximising the affordability for all users.

National Frequency Plan

The Maltese national plan of frequency allocations, also known as the National Frequency Plan (NFP) outlines the radio frequency spectrum allocations within the Maltese territory. Therefore it designates the type of radiocommunication services that are permissible within a particular band.

In accordance with the Electronic Communications (Regulation) Act (Cap. 399), the Minister responsible for communications, after consulting with the MCA, draws up and adopts the NFP. The MCA is responsible for effectively managing the radio frequency spectrum assigned to it by the NFP on behalf of the Government.

The NFP is based on the Radio Regulations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and ERC Report 025 of the Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) within the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). It covers the frequency range between 8.3 kilohertz (kHz) and 3000 gigahertz (GHz). The NFP also serves to implement EU laws and specific deliverables of the ITU and CEPT on radio spectrum. The NFP is therefore revised and republished regularly due to international developments or to reflect national requirements.

The latest edition of the frequency allocation plan for Malta - National Frequency Plan can be found here.

National Spectrum Management Policy

The latest Radio Spectrum Management Policy (2007) effectively addresses the demand for spectrum and technology advancements at the time it was published. Since then, however, the users' needs and expectations have changed as have the plethora of technologies and services available.

The MCA felt the need to review and update its Radio Spectrum Management Policy in order to better mirror the present drive in technology requirements and the new yearn in market demand. The Radio Spectrum Policy for 2018 will comprise any spectrum-related recommendations and deliverables presented at an international level. This review will ensure that spectrum continues to be efficiently and effectively managed, catering for the present and future needs with regards to the Maltese economic, social and cultural interests.

The review will, amongst other things, set out how the MCA plans to ensure the effective and efficient management of this important national scarce resource in the period ahead. A significant element of the strategy will identify emerging spectrum bands capable of supporting next generation wireless broadband technologies, such as 5G, and innovative services that will require increased radio frequency bandwidths. The strategy will outline the MCA’s policy for the renewal of the radio spectrum licences that will expire in 2020 (spectrum in 2.1 GHz band and the 3.4 - 3.6 GHz), 2021 (spectrum in the 470-790 MHz band - also referred to as the UHF band), and in 2022 (spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band). It will also set out the work required to prepare for the repurposing of the 700 MHz band (694 - 790 MHz), currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services, to allow the provision of mobile broadband services and the work required to make available additional bands earmarked for such next generation wireless technologies. The strategy will also set out the MCA’s views on its spectrum management toolbox, including: the use of auctions, radio spectrum competition caps, spectrum trading (transfers and leases), licence duration, fees for spectrum rights, sharing and collaborative arrangements, technology and service neutrality and transparency of information.

International Spectrum Planning

Radio spectrum knows no geographical boundaries. However, technologies and electronic communications markets develop in different ways, in different countries. Spectrum planning at an international level is essential in order to ensure maximum harmonisation benefits as well as to ensure the availability of useable spectrum. The MCA actively participates in such International Fora.

World Radiocommunication Conference

The ITU organises World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) every three to four years. The WRC is the highest international body regulating the use of the radio spectrum. In accordance with the ITU Constitution, a WRC can, amongst other things, revise the Radio Regulations and any associated frequency assignment and allotment Plans and address any radiocommunication matter of a worldwide character.

Further details on the World Radiocommunication Conferences can be found here.

European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT)

The basic aim of CEPT is to strengthen the relations between members, promote their cooperation and contribute to the creation of a dynamic market in the field of European posts and electronic communications. Its Electronic Communications Committee (ECC) develops and maintains various deliverables harmonising the efficient use of the radio spectrum, satellite orbits and numbering resources.

Further details on the CEPT/ECC can be found here.

European Union institutions on radio spectrum policy

Two key institutions contributing to the development of European spectrum policy are the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) and the Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC).  The RSPG is a high-level advisory group assisting the Commission in the development of radio spectrum policy in the Union.  The RSC is responsible for specific technical measures required to implement the broader radio spectrum policy, including the multiannual radio spectrum policy programme (RSPP).

Further details on the European spectrum policy documents can be found here

Updated:- 26.04.2018