UK regulator Ofcom is already planning for fifth generation (5G) mobile networks, despite only just releasing auction terms for 4G technology.
The regulator is planning to utilize spectrum in the 700-MHz frequency band to ensure there is enough capacity to meet mobile data demand in the future. Ofcom predicts mobile data usage could grow by 80 times between 2012 and 2030, after consumption more than doubled from 9 million GB in 2011 to 20 billion GB in 2012.
While the 700-MHz frequency is currently used by digital terrestrial television, Ofcom believes harmonized spectrum planning throughout Europe means new frequencies can be released without the need for a second TV switchover – it has just completed the shift to digital, which has freed up the 800-MHz spectrum previously used by analog TV for the forthcoming 4G auction.
“Within the coming months we will hold the UK’s largest-ever auction of mobile spectrum for 4G. However, that may not be enough to meet consumers’ future data demands, which is why we are already making significant efforts to prepare to go beyond 4G,” Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards explains, adding. “Our plans are designed to avoid a ‘capacity crunch’, ensuring that the UK’s mobile infrastructure can continue to support the inescapable growth in consumer demand and economic growth more generally.”
Ofcom’s announcement comes less than a week after a team of UK researchers revealed they are working to commercialize a technique that boosts the amount of data that can be handled by current optic fibers. The team has already achieved 20-Gbps data rates using their technique, which is based on Optical Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, the BBC reports.