Ofcom backs three spectrum bands for 5G use in the UK

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Ofcom has proposed the three primary bands that will be used for 5G in the UK.

In a briefing document entitled ‘Update on 5G in the UK’, the regulator said that the 700MHz, 3.4 to 3.8GHz and 26GHz bands would provide the best opportunity for the UK to benefit from 5G.

It said that it had begun the work of clearing the three bands.

The 26GHz band, which is expected to be important to mmWave frequencies, offers the most credible possibility to establish a global band for 5G, according to Ofcom.

The regulator said it intends to publish a consultation on how to make this band available in the first half of 2017.

Currently, it is used by fixed links and a single Earth exploration satellite service. Responsibility for granting permission to use frequencies between 26.5-27.5GHz lies with the Ministry of Defence.

In the 700MHz band, Ofcom is re-planning the frequencies used by broadcasting services to avoid disruption to these services.

In the 3.4GHz to 3.6GHz band, 150MHz of spectrum has been cleared and will be auctioned later this year, Ofcom said.

Between 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz, part of the band (3605 to 3689MHz) has already been assigned to electronic communications, while a consultation is currently open on the remaining 116MHz.

Ofcom said that it would publish a UK roadmap for 5G later this year.

[Read more: UK urged to embrace spectrum sharing, relax regulation to help it on road to 5G]

“We intend to establish our priorities for the different bands, based primarily on UK utilisation, the direction of travel and requirements for other services (other than 5G mobile access) and the chances for global harmonisation,” Ofcom said.

“This may lead to us deprioritising and/or opposing consideration of certain bands for 5G where this use is clearly not in the UK interests.”

The proposals come ahead of the World Radio Conference in 2019 (WRC-19), during which the International Telecommunication Union will determine the spectrum to be used in 5G. The conference will precede the IMT-2020 conference in 2020 that will determine the specifications for 5G.

Ofcom noted that other bands would be considered during WRC-19. These include 24.25-27.5GHz, 31.8-33.4GHz, 37-40.5GHz, 40.5-42.5GHz, 42.5-43.5GHz, 45.5-47GHz, 47-47.2GHz, 7.2-50.2GHz, 50.4-52.6GHz, 66-76GHz and 81-86GHz.

5G has been forecast by Cisco to take a 1.5 percent share of global mobile data traffic in 2021, as data usage grows due to increasing use of mobile video and applications such as VR.

Read more: Operators tussling with effective use cases for two-speed 5G, claims new report