Ofcom calls for views on 5G mobile technology

The UK telecoms regulator is calling on industry to help lay the foundations for the next generation of wireless communications, hailed as 3,000 times quicker than today’s.

Ofcom says so-called '5G' mobile communications are expected to be able to use very high frequency spectrum - the raw material that underpins wireless services.

This spectrum, which is above 6 GHz, could support a variety of uses, ranging from financial trading and entertainment to gaming and holographic projections.

It also has the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, like city centres, where currently many British mobile users are only just switching to 4G.

But whereas the latter has an average download speed of 15 Mbit/s, its replacement is expected to be as much as 3,000 times quicker, by offering up to 50Gbit/s.

 “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom acting chief executive.

“No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers' needs."

The timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, but commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to R&D and international agreements for aligning frequency bands.

Understanding how these frequencies might be used will be focussed on now – “the groundwork” – aside to managing the limited supply of spectrum and requirements for 5G.

The regulator added: “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.”

The closing date for responding to Ofcom’s consultation paper -- Spectrum above 6GHz for future mobile communications -- is February 27th 2015, via email or an online form.

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