Holiday parks and farms to get own Wi-fi networks

Remote holiday parks, farms and small business centres will be able to set up their own Wi-fi networks when Ofcom opens up a network of airwaves previously restricted to certain groups.

Holiday parks will be among the communities to benefit from the new Wi-fi availability.

Under the new rules, communities and organisations which previously did not have access to easy wifi including villages, small business groups, can apply to access airwaves which are licensed to the major mobile companies but not currently used by them locally.

The regulator said these could be used to support dedicated local mobile or wireless broadband networks, improving internet coverage in the area.

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Under the plan Ofcom will make available the 3.8-4.2GHz, 1800MHz and 2300MHz shared spectrum bands for new users under the spectrum sharing framework. It has also included the 26 GHz band, which has been identified as one of the main bands for 5G in the future.

Once its receives requests for access to the networks, the regulator will co-ordinate access to the shared spectrum on a “first come, first served” basis for each location.

It is adding safeguards to ensure that these new users do not cause interference to existing users of the networks.

Philip Marnick, spectrum group director at Ofcom, said: “Wireless spectrum is a valuable, finite resource, so it’s vital we use it efficiently.

“Our new sharing approach will help more people access airwaves to create local networks around the UK. The benefits of this innovation could extend across our economy, from farms to factories, as well as supporting new technology firms.”

Ofcom said that shopping centres and transport hubs such as ports and companies in the logistics industry may also be interested in setting up their own local networks using the technology.

Local access users will pay £950 per licence, which allows them to use the spectrum for up to three years – or longer if agreed with the relevant mobile company.

Ofcom will consider any requests for shared access to the four frequency bands by the end of this year.

A similar approach has already been used in Germany, where 100MHz of mid-band spectrum was reserved for local and industrial use.