Ofcom to clear radio spectrum from 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz for 5G mobile use in 2022

Friday, October 27th 2017

Ofcom has started formally the process to clear bandwidth for use by 5G mobile and mobile broadband services in future and that falls between 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz of the radio spectrum in UK. Mobile Network Operators will not be allowed to operate in this spectrum slot in UK until 2022.


Generally, the 700MHz band would be useful to deliver cheaply the 5G coverage over rural parts, however in much lower speeds. The bands slotted around the 3.4GHz range would aim to cover urban parts. The very high frequencies falling above 24GHz (millimetre Wave) range can support very wide bandwidths, offering very low latency and ultra-high capacity. Fixed wireless tech would be benefited.


Ofcom has recently started the auction process of the 3.4GHz band. However, this stage is currently being delayed by EE and Three UK, by legally challenging it. Meanwhile, Ofcom is continuing to work in identifying how much of the bandwidth, lying between 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz could be freed in future, to support 5G networks. This slot of the radio spectrum is being identified by UK and EU owing to its propagation properties and the large slot available, according to Ofcom.


This bandwidth is internationally already allocated for fixed links, wireless-broadband and fixed satellite services. Ofcom intends to re-purpose a slot of the 116MHz frequency band for 5G services and so has started the formal process to clear it. The regulator will remove present authorisations given to fixed links. They would vary the grants and licences allocated to satellite earth stations in this spectrum slot. Ofcom intends to use the remaining 116MHz being freed, slotted in the 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz range, to be awarded during 2019, following further consultation on its auction for this slot, in the coming year. This approach is to enable mobile services in future on the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz slot that's aimed to be deployed around 2020, but may not go nationwide earlier to 2022.


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