Ofcom Outlines Potential 5G Spectrum Bands

Ofcom outline preliminary spectrum bands for 5G

A preliminary set of spectrum frequency bands above 6GHz for 5G networks have been outlined by Ofcom, the government telecommunications authority for the UK.

“global harmonisation of 5G spectrum”

Different parts of the 6-100GHz range have been identified and the organisation hopes that the update, which comes after it issued a “Call for Input” (CFI) in January, will help shape the agenda for the World Radio Communication Conference in 2019 as it drives towards ‘global harmonisation of 5G spectrum’.

Identifying bands in different parts of the range to allow for technical uncertainties, the bands to be considered are as follows: 10.125 – 10.225 / 10.475 – 10.575 GHz, 31.8 – 33.4 GHz; 40.5 – 43.5 GHz; 45.5 – 48.9 GHz and 66 – 71 GHz.

Ofcom 5G bands

“these bands…could have potential for being harmonised and developed for future 5G use globally”

‘We think these bands may be relatively straightforward to make available in the UK compared to other options within the range, and could have potential for being harmonised and developed for future 5G use globally,’ Ofcom’s update said.

However Ofcom was also keen to warn that ‘this does not guarantee that these bands will be adopted in the future or preclude other bands being added’, thereby leaving plenty of options open after the CFI responses indicated no real consensus on specific bands to prioritise, with some arguing it is ‘too early to exclude any band for study.’

The regulator said it would “continue to review available options taking into account feedback from international discussions” and that it may be that it will be open to amending its position based on the outcome of a meeting with CEPT CPG PTA17 (project team A) meeting on 27 – 30 April 2015.

“satellite industry stakeholders have clearly stated that they believe there is no scope for shared use of satellite systems with 5G mobile systems in the Ka-band”

One band to “miss out” was the 28GHz band, even though a report to Ofcom on 5G  Candidate bands from Quotient Associates admitted that “at the top end of the band, interest at 28 GHz is high for 5G mmW in some countries and trials have been reported”. That includes a 2014 trial by Samsung in 800MHz of bandwidth at 28GHz. The Ofcom paper also said that Intel had expressed interest in the 28GHz band.

However, the decision to sidestep 28GHz seems to be in deference to preserving the band for Ka Band civil satellite use. The Quotient paper said, “In various technical fora, satellite industry stakeholders have clearly stated that they believe there is no scope for shared use of satellite systems with 5G mobile systems in the Ka-band. In support of this, they point out that satellite must be preserved to play an essential role in 5G delivery, in order to target 100% user coverage.

Not only that, but work being done in 28GHz may also mean only that the 28 GHz band has suitable test and development licence arrangements in some locations.

Ofcom conducted its own review and took conclusions from its ‘Future Technology and 5G’ event last month into account, as well as informal discussions with other European nations. It also commissioned Quotient Associates to undertake an independent technical study to analyse technical suitability and options for different bands.

A strategy on bands below 6GHz was published by Ofcom in May 2014, but with some 5G tech being developed expected to utilise spectrum above 6GHz, the body has acted accordingly.

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