Ofcom issued a call to industry today (16 January 2015) to help lay the foundations for the UK's next generation of wireless communications. So-called '5G' mobile communications are expected to be able to use very high frequency spectrum .
The UK communications regular noted that this spectrum, which is above 6 GHz, could support a variety of uses, ranging from financial trading and entertainment to gaming and holographic projections, with the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, like city centres.
5G mobile is expected to be capable of delivering extremely fast data speeds - perhaps 10 to 50 Gbps - compared with today's average 4G download speed of 15 Mbps.
5G services are likely to use large blocks of spectrum to achieve the fastest speeds, which are difficult to find at lower frequencies. Therefore, higher frequency bands, above 6 GHz, for example, will be important.
Planning for the future
Ofcom pointed out that the timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, although commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to research and development and international agreements for aligning frequency bands.
The regulator said it is important that Ofcom does the groundwork now to understand how these frequencies might be used to serve citizens and consumers in future. Ofcom is therefore asking industry to help plan for the future spectrum requirements of 5G.
Spectrum above 6 GHz currently supports various uses, from scientific research to satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring. One of Ofcom's core roles is to manage the limited supply of spectrum, taking into account current and future demands and allowing these different services to exist alongside each other.
Steve Unger, Ofcom acting chief executive, said: "We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK's next generation of wireless communications.
"5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers' needs"
Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum group director, said: "We want to explore how high frequency spectrum could potentially offer significant capacity for extremely fast 5G mobile data.This could pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses."
Ofcom is seeking views on the use of spectrum above 6 GHz that might be suitable for future mobile communication services. The closing date for responses is 27 February 2015.