Ofcom appoints new spectrum lead
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Ofcom HQ building viewed from riverside Lloyd will arrive at Ofcom HQ in May (credit: Ofcom)

Communications regulator Ofcom has made a new appointment to manage what it described as “the lifeblood of the UK’s wireless industry”.

After former appointment Dan Lloyd was unable to take up the position as director of Ofcom’s Spectrum Group due to family reasons, Ofcom has turned to BlackBerry and Nortel Networks director David Willis to assume the role.

In his new position, Willis will be tasked with ensuring the efficient use of the UK’s wireless spectrum including overseeing the sale or release of spectrum for new services such as 5G mobile and climate mapping.

Willis will join from the Canadian government’s Communications Research Centre, where he led research into advanced wireless telecommunications and spectrum management. Before this, he led the Spectrum Engineering and Planning team at Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada having held leadership roles in product management, operations and engineering at BlackBerry and Nortel.

Commenting on his appointment, Willis said: “It is a pleasure to be joining Ofcom to lead its experienced and innovative team of spectrum management professionals. I am looking forward to working with Melanie and the rest of the Ofcom team to support and enable the wireless services that are vitally important to our lives."

He will take over from Helen Hearn, Ofcom’s senior spectrum director who has led the Spectrum Group on an interim basis since January and will continue in place until the summer to handover to Willis.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom's chief executive, added: “The role of group director for Spectrum needs a global outlook, as we work with other countries on spectrum policy and management. David will bring a wealth of technology experience and an international outlook to the role of group director. I’m very much looking forward to working with him.”

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The appointment comes a week after Ofcom announced a new approach for authorising the radio equipment used on long-distance, high-altitude drones including the introduction of new spectrum licences that will allow operators to use mobile and satellite networks.

Ofcom’s new licences would also authorise the use of safety equipment to enable drones to operate safely in UK airspace.

This should enable the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Department for Transport to further progress wider airspace policy proposals, including the framework for how commercial drones can be integrated into UK airspace. Ofcom has invited feedback to be sent on the roadmap by 5 September.

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