» ISP News » 

techUK Plugs 5 Recommendations for Helping the UK to Deliver 5G Mobile

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017 (12:42 pm) - Score 425
5G official logo 3gpp

A new report from techUK, which is an industry group for many of the United Kingdom’s key technology companies, has proposed five recommendations that Ofcom and the Government should adopt in order to make the upgrade to future ultrafast 5G Mobile technology a success.

At present 5G technology is still in the late alpha stages of development and an official standard probably won’t be agreed until 2018. Never the less we do know that the technology will aim to deliver at least a peak download performance capability of 20Gbps (Gigabits per second), which will fall to 10Gbps for uploads and offer user latency of 1 millisecond+ (details).

However the first commercial roll-out isn’t expected to take place in the United Kingdom, as well as most other countries around the world, until 2020 or later. This is partly because regulators (e.g. Ofcom) will need time to free-up existing radio spectrum (here), harmonise its use and then make it available to the market for operators to bid on (mobile operators often like to squabble over such things, which may add further delays).

Likewise any new technology will also need time to be refined before it can be squeezed into the size of today’s incredibly slim Smartphones. As such the early deployments / trials will mostly reflect fixed wireless networks for servicing homes and businesses with “ultrafast” broadband, with Mobile use set to be tested at a later date.

In keeping with that the new report from techUK – ‘5G: New Services, New Customers, New Challenges‘ – seeks to highlight the potential of 5G and to shed a light on some of the obstacles to its early and widespread deployment. The group also notes that the business case for early deployment of 5G in the UK is “uncertain,” not least because many consumers may have a “low willingness to pay for technology upgrades.”

On top of that techUK warns that the high price of related radio spectrum and a “drawn-out and costly planning approval and deployment process” may also hamper 5G. Not to mention that the political, media and regulatory focus is often fixated on headline downlink speeds, with “little consideration” being given to the “quality of connection, coverage or customer service.”

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said:

“The UK was slow to get 4G spectrum into the hands of industry, and the planning and approvals process further delayed the UK reaping the benefits of 4G. I am delighted that the UK Government has no intention of repeating that mistake with 5G. The UK has a real opportunity to become a 5G leader and Europe’s showcase for the applications and services enabled by 5G.

techUK strongly supports the UK Government’s focus on 5G, and the considerable effort Ofcom has put into identifying suitable spectrum which could be made available quickly, but to become a 5G leader, the UK needs to do even more.

Specifically, we need to see a much more coordinated approach to deploying – and sharing – infrastructure, and a focus on connectivity in major transport corridors. I am delighted to say that techUK already has initiatives underway, bringing together industry and public sector, to assist in policy development in these key areas.”

The Government has already outlined its Digital Strategy for the United Kingdom, which reiterated some vague commitments towards future 5G deployments and investment over the next decade. However we’re expecting to hear more about this in tomorrow’s 2017 Budget announcement and naturally techUK has included a list of fairly predictable recommendations to help guide public policy.


1. Ofcom should auction 700 MHz spectrum in advance of final UK clearance to enable those who are awarded some of this spectrum the opportunity to plan their networks and deploy infrastructure even before the last Freeview multiplex had been relocated.

2. Ofcom should both encourage competition amongst mobile operators and facilitate quality coverage, including the use of greater sharing.

3. The Government, and public sector managers of key transport corridors, must work with industry to ensure 5G connectivity far exceeds what is currently offered by 4G.

4. Ofcom should initiate a debate with industry to plan trials in pioneer bands and to determine the optimal form of releasing spectrum to the market (e.g. award mechanisms, auction, beauty contest and shared access, regional vs national licences), methods of mitigation between 5G and incumbent uses.

5. A much more proactive and joined-up approach towards deploying urban infrastructure is imperative. The UK cannot be a 5G leader unless it can ensure that 100,000s urban microcells could be efficiently deployed, where and when they were needed, with fibre ready to go – and ideally with the roads being dug up only once.

Most of the recommendations are fairly obvious, although we’re glad to see that techUK has recognised the challenge of building a “joined-up approach towards deploying urban infrastructure” as the sheer complexity and cost of building a high frequency 5G network in urban environments is no small problem to overcome.

The best 5G speeds require some very high frequency spectrum bands (e.g. 28GHz+), which can result in poor coverage / signal quality unless you build a dense network. However this is a complex approach and one that could easily become very costly, it’s also one that might not work so well in rural areas where more traditional (lower frequency) bands may be favoured (e.g. 700MHz to 3.4-3.6GHz).

The potential for interference, particularly when deploying advanced Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna technology (increased spectral and energy efficiency), is another possible problem area. 5G is expected to utilise MIMO for both transmit and receive, supporting multiple operating frequency bands simultaneously, which the report claims could produce “several potential sources of interference, including between simultaneous modes of transmission and cross-talk between different radios at the same or adjacent frequency.”

Suffice to say that Ofcom and the Government have a lot of work to do and with trials already being planned then now is the time to get cracking.

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar 3G Infinity

    I think this report is excellent and puts the challenge clearly into Industry:Government:Ofcom to go figure out.

    There needs to be continued momentum to get 700MHz, 3.5GHz and the 3.8GHz bands cleared and in the hands of MNO’s/Service Providers as soon as possible – industry knows how to put 4G (LTE Advanced Pro) and 5G into these bands.

    What industry then needs is a clearer picture as you rightly point out on “how to do dense 5G deployments in the 26.5GHz band” followed by 32GHz and 40GHz. The high number of physically located small cells or APs at street level is challenging full stop, only Government can work the rules to free up planning constraints where possible and also be conscious that the VOA now levies tax on public APs/Small Cells in the same way it does with fibre and towers, something again which may require some flex to help early roll outs.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      What’s the thinking on the use of multiple 1MHZ channels of sub 1GHz spectrum for supporting IoT devices.

      Trying to manage a multiplicity of devices on the higher bands looks a little fanciful in practice.

    • Avatar 3G Infinity

      Re IoT and 1MHz channels, this is already available at the top end of the 800MHz band on a license exempt basis so anyone can go build a network.

  2. Avatar Sledgehammer

    I prefer the British way of doing thing as far as 5G goes. Let every other country blast away at installing 5G, keeping a careful eye on what is going on. Then pick out the easiest and cheapest way to get 5G up and running and try to avoid paying VOA and other levies in the process. So we end up 3/5 years behind every one else but what changes we always seem to be in that boat.
    By that time we should have fallen completely off the FTTH list, so what’s new?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      The British way is to ignore some of its engineering skill including much Radio Engineering. The Femto cell, I think is a good example, the IPR is of UK origin but now US owned and deployed widely in Japan and other markets.

      No UK support 5 years ago for wholesale conditions for the low-powered 2.6Ghz spectrum, which might have encouraged convergence with Femto capability into our home hubs, which could have helped with indoor mobile reception for our devices. Ofcom preferred auction yield and BT Spectrum Holdings spent £200m on the option but I cannot see the spectrum being used.

      Ofcom concerns on Parliamentary vote for a 4G coverage obligation caused some to panic and offer MIP to protect the auction yield against the impact of the coverage obligation.

      Sacrificing auction yield is not in the DNA of Ofcom or Treasury, but success in 5G design and early deployment will demand radio engineers issue a shopping list.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £19.95 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: £50 Gift Card
  • Post Office £20.90 (*37.00)
    Avg. Speed 38Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • SSE £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £22.95
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2651)
  2. FTTP (2456)
  3. FTTC (1722)
  4. Building Digital UK (1662)
  5. Politics (1541)
  6. Openreach (1511)
  7. Business (1324)
  8. FTTH (1230)
  9. Statistics (1153)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1127)
  11. Fibre Optic (1019)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (972)
  13. 4G (972)
  14. Wireless Internet (971)
  15. Virgin Media (934)
  16. EE (648)
  17. Sky Broadband (639)
  18. TalkTalk (618)
  19. Vodafone (599)
  20. 3G (437)
New Forum Topics
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact