Ofcom turns to mmWave spectrum to boost UK 5G

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Ofcom has opened a consultation to see how millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum could be used to improve 5G services in the UK.

5G will use a wider variety of frequencies than previous generations of mobile technology, with regulators releasing a mix of low, mid and high band radio waves, providing a combination of range and capacity.

The next commercial generations in the UK will use a combination of low and mid frequencies, but some of the more breakthrough 5G applications will require even greater performance and reliability.

Verizon 5G

mmWave offers massive capacity over a short range, making it ideal for high-bandwidth applications that require a guaranteed level of throughput.

The spectrum is already being used in the United States to support fixed wireless broadband (FWA), which offers an alternative to fiber broadband, and to boost 5G speeds.

Ofcom says it is looking at spectrum between 26GHz and 40GHz, believing it could be used to improve mobile broadband, particularly in high-density areas such as train stations and sports stadiums, as well as applications industrial. These include virtual reality, factory automation and intelligent transport systems.

It says it plans to offer a mix of citywide and local licenses for the 26 GHz band and will define a range of options for 40 GHz. This includes revoking some existing licenses to make room.

In addition, the regulator is also examining the spectrum requirements of short-range devices (SRDs). These include consumer portable consumer products such as keyless entry cards, baby monitors and garage door openers.

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Ofcom believes more spectrum is needed for these devices, including for road safety, low-power Wi-Fi and drones.

Submissions for both consultations will be accepted until July.

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