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Ofcom Set Ambition for 5G Spectrum and Possibly 6GHz Wi-Fi

Thursday, June 7th, 2018 (2:43 pm) - Score 1,369
wireless internet radio spectrum frequency

The UK telecoms regulator has today published a new consultation document on their proposals for the crucial World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), which amongst other things highlights the bands they’d like to see used for 5G and the possibility of adopting 6GHz for use in future WiFi networks.

The WRC event is held approximately every four years and enables countries to better identify, as well as harmonise, useful bands of radio spectrum. Ofcom notes that decisions taken at the conference “could affect thousands of UK businesses and consumers,” which makes it vitally important for all manner of wireless communication based services and technologies.

The next event will take place between 28th October to 22nd November 2019 and Ofcom has thus begun their preparations with a new consultation, which proposes a range of policies for how they could approach the spectrum governing various sectors, such as mobile broadband, maritime, aeronautical, satellite and scientific use.

In terms of future 5G mobile services, there aren’t too many surprises. So far Ofcom has already auctioned off the 3.4GHz band for 5G and we know they’ll do the same with 700MHz next year. On top of that they’re already looking at how to release spectrum in the 3.5-3.8GHz bands and also the 26GHz (24.25-27.5GHz) band for the same purpose.

The rationale is that 700MHz will prove useful for delivering wide 5G coverage in rural areas, albeit at slower speeds than urban areas (less opportunity for Carrier Aggregation etc.). Meanwhile the higher frequencies around 26GHz (e.g. millimetre Wave) will support “very large bandwidths, providing ultra-high capacity and very low latency“, although their limited range may confine them to fixed wireless networks. Finally, the stuff in 3.4GHz+ may work most of its magic in urban areas via a dense network.

5g_spectrum_use_in_the_uk

On top of all that Ofcom’s new consultation identifies other bands that they “intend to promote” for similar uses in mobile networks.

Ofcom’s Statement

[The] other bands that we intend to promote for identification for IMT are; 40.5-43.5GHz (as part of the wider 37-43.5GHz band) and 66-71GHz.

As we said in our Call for Input and more recent Enabling 5G in the UK, we consider that the frequency range 37-43.5GHz has strong potential to become a 5G band, noting its attractiveness as a wide tuning range for harmonised equipment, while equipment development in 66-71 GHz should be able to draw on the experience of multi-gigabit wireless systems in the adjacent band.

The 66-71GHz band also appears to have no operating users and this spectrum has recently been opened in the USA for unlicensed use. Finally, the band 32GHz (31.8 – 33.4GHz) has also been discussed internationally, although there appears to be little traction on this band at present.

Further down in the document Ofcom notes that “more recently and outside the work preparing for WRC-19“, the 6GHz band (i.e. above 5925MHz) has come into focus for potential sharing opportunities with Wi-Fi or similar short range wireless broadband access technologies. Both Europe and the USA are known to be considering this.

Ofcom will continue to monitor these [6GHz] developments to help us understand which of the bands of interest for potential expanded Wi-Fi use have the greatest prospect of support,” said the regulator. Ofcom has already given WiFi a boost by making an additional 125MHz of radio spectrum available to it via 5.8GHz (here), but the addition of a whole new band beyond the existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrum would be a big change.

Certainly even the best home wireless networks tend to struggle with the new generation of Gigabit capable “full fibre” broadband ISP networks and so a new band sitting so close to the existing 5GHz one would be ideal, although various other satellite, fixed link and mobile style communication platforms already make use of it. We probably won’t see 6GHz being used by WiFi for awhile.

Ofcom’s 2019 WRC Consultation
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/../uk-preparations-wrc-19

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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.
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10 Responses
  1. Avatar JustAnotherFileServer

    AS 6GHz has an even shorter range and not able to in some cases go through internal walls, it’s not going to be a solution for Gigabit internet solutions anyways.

  2. Avatar Meadmodj

    The benefits really come from the 802.11ax standard to provide a single stream of 3.5Gbps and theoretically 4 parallel streams to one endpoint 14Gbps. The release of 6Ghz (pressure from the big boys in the USA now International) just provides more available WIFI channels to the 5Ghz band. It can be used in homes and offices for high speed between devices. The fact that it doesn’t travel far is an advantage in dense housing (flats) or shared offices. The band is currently used for satellite and point to point in the US so can be used for distribution and with the new standard deliver high speeds.

    • Avatar JustAnotherFileServer

      I guess you didn’t do any research before making your comment then?

      If you had then you would know that 5Ghz is a completely different band to 6Ghz and will not add any new channels to 5Ghz as it requires new hardware and firmware.

      Also 6Ghz will not be sufficient to even cover a 1 bed flat. It’s so bad that even just putting the carboard box the routers are packaged in front of the router will be enough to block the signal completely.

    • Obviously the cardboard box method is not a standard home deployment practice 🙂 . In fairness I can get a good 5GHz signal from our router 2 rooms away upstairs (the floor it’s based on) and 1 room away when downstairs. I can improve that by making the antenna more directional in its signal to where I need the service most (usually downstairs living room).

      At this point though the mistake you’re making JAFS is to assume that everybody will only ever use just the router. I don’t need WiFi extenders but both my sister and brother have both plugged a couple of those in and they make a big difference to their homes, when positioned correctly to relay the optimal signal strength.

      As for 6GHz, it partly depends on whether or not regulators will grab spectrum from the lower end or top end of the band. At the lower end its frequency isn’t too far from where the current 5GHz one for WiFi ends. But as above, with the right balance of power and extenders then it could be a very useful addition.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      @JustAnotherFileServer
      I do appreciate it is a different band but the point is that it is more WIFI channels. As the chip sets become available then they will be incorporated in new products just like any other new standard. The current 802.11ax chips appear to be 2.4 and 5 only.
      If 6Ghz is approved by Ofcom (very likely) it will be enabled in UK bound products when the standard and chips are available.
      If this eventually helps us from not broadcasting 2.4Ghz 4 houses down the road that can only be a good thing. I use targeted WIFI access points already.

    • Avatar JustAnotherFileServer

      Mark, even though the cardboard box method is not a standard install, tests have already taken place and it’s found that it’s so sensitive that even just putting down a coffee cup on your desk can have a large effect. As for using extenders, I totally disagree with them and many times I’ve replaced them with better routers when customers have got them and reached better results without them.

      @Meadmodj Most wireless routers don’t use anywhere near the available channels that 5Ghz offers. I’ve just tested at home to see what 5Ghz wireless networks I can connect to and most of them are on the same channels. The key is educating people on how to setup their wireless networks (instead of them thinking they are just plug in anywhere and expecting them to work perfectly).

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      The channels are determined based on the multitude of uses of the band, those determined to be indoor or outdoor use, the recommendations of the relevant standard, the economics of the chip manufacturer and then their acceptance for use in country (including the max power criteria). WIFI is driven by the US market and hence why 6Ghz as it is the simpler to implement as antenna and test gear already include 6Ghz in most cases.

      You obviously believe in the single powerful signal of a single WIFI router. I prefer lower output targeted access points that can be positioned for specific use and turned off if not needed. We will probably never agree our different approaches.

    • Avatar JustAnotherFileServer

      Typical example is recently I got called up by a hotel who was having issues with their network (which they were surprised they would have issues as they just had it installed) they wanted another opinion as they didn’t quiet trust the company who installed it.

      Luckily I saw straight away that they got ripped off as the company who installed the wireless network installed access points in every room. This was a complete waste of money and time installing all the cables. I ripped everything out (carefully of course) and sent all the access points back. I then installed a good access point for each floor and made sure that I got full speed from each room and gives them headroom to expand their internet connection to a higher speed in the future without having to upgrade their wifi to cope with it (and saving them thousands of pounds).

      The moral of this is that people are duped into thinking they need more equipment than they need to.

    • Avatar un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Very well explained Mark.

  3. Avatar Meadmodj

    @JustAnotherFileServer
    Actually I would agree with you for the scenario you describe.

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