Ofcom takes next step towards 5G by consulting on use of spectrum above 6 GHz

Ofcom took another step in defining what fifth generation (5G) technology will be by opening a consultation into the use of spectrum above 6 GHz for the next generation networks.

The UK regulator is seeking views on the use of spectrum currently used for a variety of purposes including scientific research, satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring. Ofcom said large blocks of high frequency spectrum will likely be required to achieve the potential of 5G technology to deliver data rates of 10 Gbps to 50 Gbps, as it explained its focus on the 6 GHz band and over.

"5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G," Steve Unger, acting CEO of Ofcom, stated.

Philip Marnick, Ofcom's Spectrum Group Director, said the regulator is keen to explore the potential of high frequency spectrum in meeting the capacity required for 5G mobile data. Such an exploration could "pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses," he said.

According to the Financial Times, those new services may include holographic projections, and almost instantaneous mobile Internet services.

The UK has sought to take a leading role in the research and development of 5G technology. The University of Surrey established its 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) to help define what the technology should deliver--and, therefore, how best to achieve those deliverables--while Chinese vendor Huawei has also established research centres in the country to probe 5G. The UK government is also committed to researching the technology.

Ofcom's consultation runs through to Feb. 27, and the regulator is planning to discuss the use of spectrum above 6 GHz at an event in early March.

The UK regulator is working to a schedule that supposes the first 5G applications will be available by 2020, though it concedes the precise timeframe is uncertain.

Equipment vendor Ericsson previously forecast the first 5G networks will be up and running by 2020.

For more:
- see Ofcom's 5G consultation statement
- view this Financial Times report (sub. req.)

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