Out-Law News 1 min. read

Ofcom consults on plans to release more spectrum to support 5G networks

The UK's telecoms regulator has announced plans to release more spectrum to support future demand for '5G' networks.

Businesses that see potential in using the 3.25 GHz of spectrum between 24.25 GHz and 27.5 GHz that Ofcom has identified, known as the 26 GHz band, have been urged to submit their views in a 'call for inputs' (44-page / 594KB PDF), which is open until 22 September.

The regulator said the spectrum "offers high data capacity and speeds over short distances". It said the spectrum could potentially be used to support future 5G mobile broadband services, but that it could also be used in a number of commercial and industrial settings too, as well as the public sector.

"The 5G technology standards are being designed to support application that require very low latency, high reliability and the ability to connect large numbers of devices to the network," Ofcom said. "These features make the technology suitable for enabling automation of factories, depos and warehouses. For example, controlling robotic high speed stock pickers in a warehouse or proactively monitoring the health of equipment to allow preventative maintenance to be undertaken."

"5G technologies may also be used to improve the reliability and control of communications in offices, hospitals and similar sites. For example, very low latency and reliability could find application in trading environments and the high speed and low latency could allow medical staff to reliably access and intuitively manipulate detailed 3D imagery on mobile devices using tactile internet technologies," it said.

Ofcom said it is possible that the spectrum in the 26 GHz band could also support 5G connectivity in cars and trains.

The spectrum is currently used for a range of purposes, including by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and for receiving "Earth observation data, for example satellite imagery and climate data", Ofcom said.

"Feedback from stakeholders on likely demand to deploy 5G in the 26 GHz, in conjunction with information on technology availability and capability and the current use of the spectrum will inform our policy options for authorising spectrum in the band," Ofcom said.

Ofcom is due to hold an auction for spectrum in the 3.4 GHz frequency band this autumn. The spectrum is expected to be used to support 5G mobile broadband services in future.

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