Ofcom starts prepping for 5G in the UK

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The UK's regulator is exploring the potential of 5G by asking the industry for help in planning for mobile services above the 6GHz mark.

It has identified several uses for the high frequency spectrum, from financial trading and entertainment, to gaming and holographic projections. It said the spectrum would be most useful in city centres, where there is a large amount of high demand users.

Ofcom said that because users will be able to download at up to 50GB per second, large blocks of contiguous spectrum will be needed, which is why it is looking at the bands above 6GHz.

This spectrum is currently used to support the likes of scientific research, satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring.

While it is unlikely 5G will be mainstream until 2020, Ofcom said a consultation is necessary in order to start planning how to manage the forthcoming different types of spectrum demand.

Steve Unger, Ofcom Acting Chief Executive, said: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. 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.”

While many players have stated that high frequency contiguous spectrum is needed for 5G, Tele 2 CTO Joachim Horn argued late last year that using lower frequencies is much more effective for operators.

Speaking at a Huawei conference in Shanghai, he said: "He said: "Building a network below 1GHz is five times more efficient than 2.6GHz and three times more so than 1800MHz. The focus [for the industry] should be on sub 2GHz networks." 

Ofcom will seek responses to the consultation until 27 February 2015. 

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