About the Audit

The Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings, led by Professor Martin Cave, was completed in December 2005. The Audit recommended wide ranging changes in several areas of spectrum management; the Government’s response to the Audit outlined its acceptance of the Audit’s recommendations and a plan for delivering these.

This website has been updated to focus on implementation of the Government’s response to the Audit. Background information relating to the Independent Audit is located in the Audit 2005 tab.


This site is a reference point for information and progress against the implementation plan set out in the Government’s response to the Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings.

The Government’s response outlined a plan that would result in the application of market mechanisms to the bands in question. This involves several linked initiatives including:

  • Greater transparency in the management of public sector spectrum
  • Wider use of administered incentive pricing (AIP)
  • Introducing regulatory tools to enable trading by Crown bodies
  • Actively investigate bandsharing opportunities

Published April 2009: 2009 Government Forward Look

Ofcom consulted (12 July to 4 October 2007) on proposals to extend market mechanisms to public sector spectrum holdings in line with the implementation plan. Ofcom has now issued a Statement following that consultation: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/sfrps/statement/


In the 2004 Pre-Budget Report*, the Chancellor of the Exchequer commissioned Professor Martin Cave to conduct an Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings. The Audit covered spectrum below 15GHz with focus on spectrum used by the pubic sector and for aeronautical and maritime purposes. The radio spectrum is a finite resource and the public sector is the single biggest user of UK radio spectrum.
*See paras 3.25-3.27

Principal recommendations of the Audit include:

  • Recognised Spectrum Access (RSA) should be introduced to formally recognise the spectrum usage of Crown bodies where it has previously been undefined, enabling trading.
  • In the future the public sector should meet new spectrum demands through market mechanisms in all but exceptional cases.
  • Pricing should be introduced for radar bands, and some other aeronautical and maritime spectrum uses.
  • AIP should be applied more widely across the public, for example extending to previously uncharged for bands used by the Ministry of Defence.
  • AIP levels should be revised to better reflect the value of spectrum use and ensure consistency.
  • Opportunities for bandsharing identified by the Audit's band by band analysis should be pursued

As set out in the Pre-Budget Report, and more fully in its response to the audit, the Government has welcomed the conclusions of the audit and will work alongside Ofcom to implement the Audit's recommendations and the transition to the new approach.