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November 16, 2012

Ofcom preparing for 5G future in the UK

While auctions for future 4G services have yet to begin, plans for 5G are already being made.

By Tineka Smith

Ofcom is preparing the UK for a 5G future to keep up with the growing demands for mobile data as average broadband speeds grow.

The UK communications authority predicts the demand could be 80 times higher than it is today by 2030 and is working to avoid a possible ‘capacity crunch.’

Ofcom plans to utilise some spectrum in the 700MHz band for future digital services. While it is currently used for digital television services, Ofcom said the new frequencies would not need another switchover.

"Within the coming months we will hold the UK’s largest-ever auction of mobile spectrum for 4G," said Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive. "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 says current mobile coverage and capacity will improve after the auction of the new 4G spectrum with service being made available to at least 98% of people in villages, towns and cities in the UK.

While Ofcom is making moves to address the growing demand of data on-the-go head-on, some industry leaders say that simply providing extra airwaves will not be a cure-all to avoiding a ‘capacity crunch’.

"The latest figures from Ofcom once again emphasize the fact that more people than ever before are consuming huge amounts of data on the move," Bruce Girdlestone, Senior Business Development Manager at Virgin Media Business told CBR."While it’s encouraging to see that Ofcom is being proactive by planning to make more spectrum available, extra airwaves alone won’t solve the problem of bulging mobile networks."

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"Mobile network operators will almost certainly welcome the news of more available spectrum, but they’ll also be looking to make sure they have maximum bandwidth between their cell sites by taking advantage of fibre networks."


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