More radio spectrum will be required for mobile broadband by 2025


Mobile operators are widely agreeing that additional radio spectrum will be required in the UK by 2025 and a "call to action" is necessary, according to a new report.

According to the “UK Radio Spectrum Report” by EcrossH Ltd for Huawei, work needs to start now in identifying new sources of spectrum to meet the projected growth of mobile data services.

The report also identifies five spectrum bands that could potentially be refarmed in order to avoid the risk of a mobile data crunch.

The TV broadcast spectrum band from 694 MHz to 790 MHz could be used if TV broadcast services were moved into the 600 MHz band (also see Future of Wireless: White space provokes heated debate in Cambridge).

The L-band (1427 MHz to 1517 MHz spectrum band) could be freed up and used to speed up mobile data down-link speeds using Supplemental Downlink (SDL) technology, whilst the S-band (2300 MHz to 2400 MHz) could be used to boost capacity on the network using Licensed Shared Access now, before being cleared for 4G and 5G services long-term.

Other suggestions listed by the report include freeing up the air-traffic control radar band (2700 MHz to 2900 MHz) by moving air-traffic radar systems onto 2900 MHz to 3100 MHz, which is currently used by maritime radar systems, and using the satellite services band for low power 4G and 5G systems by 2017 on the 3400 MHz to 4200 MHz band.

Using the satellites band would work provided that the 4G LTE networks are not deployed in close proximity to sensitive fixed-satellite ground stations.

“Given the importance of mobile broadband data services to the economic prosperity of the UK, mobile networks must have access to appropriate spectrum resources as the volume of data traffic grows,” said Steve Roper, an independent spectrum specialist for EcrossH Ltd.

“Not all radio spectrum is the same and it is essential that mobile network operators have access to spectrum across a wide range of frequencies. This is like having the correct tool for the job. We have to start preparing for this now. 

“Planning and delivering spectrum refarming projects takes time – the digital TV switchover, for example, took six years.  Ofcom, European regulators and the industry as a whole should see this as a call to action.”

The full report can be viewed here: