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.
“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”
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.
“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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