Ofcom Launches 5G 6GHz Spectrum Consultation

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Ofcom says high capcity 5G at 6GHz could support holographic projections

Ofcom has asked the mobile industry to help the regulator plan for the arrival of 5G, specifically what the spectrum demands for the next generation of networks will be.

The regulator expects 5G to achieve speeds of between 10Gbps and 50Gbps, providing high capacity for urban areas and supporting a new wave of applications – including holographic projections.

This will be achieved using large blocks of spectrum, but such airwaves are difficult to find at low frequencies. Ofcom says this means ultra-high frequencies above 6GHz will be necessary.

5G at 6GHz

5gic_building_2_smallSpectrum above 6GHz is currently used for purposes like scientific research, satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring and Ofcom wants to see how much and what type of bandwidth will be necessary for 5G so it can ensure how the current occupiers and the mobile industry can coexist.

“We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom’s acting chief executive. “Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.

“5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs”

Consultation

Ofcom has already identified ‘up to 25 times’ more spectrum that can be reassigned for mobile, including the 700MHz band currently used by Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and former Ministry of Defence (MoD) bandwidth at 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz that could be auctioned off this year.

The organisation says it doesn’t know when 5G will be commercially available in the UK but says it expects the first applications to be ready by 2020. There are a number of 5G research projects around the world researching the technology, including the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey.

The GSMA says 5G will be at least 1Gbps and offer low latency, while the 5GIC says the defining feature will be capacity, not speed.

“We want to explore how high frequency spectrum could potentially offer significant capacity for extremely fast 5G mobile data,” added Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director. ““This could pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses.”

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