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Ofcom to Share 8GHz and 26GHz Spectrum for Wireless Data and 5G

Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 (12:03 pm) - Score 3,291
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Ofcom has confirmed that they’re “planning” to make more spectrum available for “shared use” with existing services in the 8GHz and 26GHz radio spectrum bands, which is primarily intended to focus upon supporting high capacity fixed wireless broadband links and indoor 5G applications. The 1.4GHz band is also being freed.

A lot of the spectrum was formally allocated to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) but its now being freed for other purposes. For example, 168MHz of frequency between 7.9GHz and 8.4GHz (8GHz band) could soon be made available for shared use. “We believe this will be attractive to meet demand for fixed wireless links to support a range of services, including: broadcast infrastructure; backhaul for fixed and mobile networks and low-latency infrastructure for specialist applications,” said Ofcom today.

On top of that 2.25GHz of frequency between 24.25GHz to 26.5GHz (26GHz band) is also planned to be made available for sharing. “We are planning for this spectrum to support 5G indoor applications, sharing access with the existing fixed-wireless services and satellite earth stations that operate in the band,” added the regulator.

The higher frequencies around 26GHz (e.g. millimetre Wave) have long been touted as being useful for supporting 5G style “very large bandwidths, providing ultra-high capacity and very low latency“, although their limited range may confine them to fixed wireless networks. However Ofcom’s notice only makes mention of “5G indoor applications” and we’re curious to know how they’d see that working (it’s a tricky band for indoor use due to being easily disrupted and very limited reach).

Ofcom said they will aim to make the 8GHz band available “as quickly as possible” (further details are due very soon), while a separate statement is expected to cover their plans for the release of the 26GHz spectrum sometime this summer.

Separately the regulator have progressed with their plan to make the 1492-1517MHz (1.4GHz) band available for future wireless broadband services (further details). “We have written to existing licensees to notify them of our proposal to clear the band by 31st December 2022. Licensees have until 17th June 2019 to respond to Ofcom’s notice should they wish to do so,” said Ofcom.

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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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8 Responses
  1. Avatar Joe

    “However Ofcom’s notice only makes mention of “5G indoor applications” and we’re curious to know how they’d see that working (it’s a tricky band for indoor use due to being easily disrupted and very limited reach).”

    Open plan offices; shopping centres etc?

    • I meant more in terms of how they saw the technology setup working. Are we talking femtocell 5G here or something more akin to a WiFi equivalent etc.? There would appear to be better bands for this sort of application.

    • Avatar Joe

      I assumed femtocell When i read it but yeah it lack detail to be sure.

    • Avatar 5G Infinity

      26GHz/28GHz works very well indoors, the natural absorbtion of walls and use of eGlass means very little leakage from room to room to corridor, etc. So yes that means an AP (femto) style deployments but with 1Gbps capability for each 250Mhz channel (TDD). So handsets would work (soft handover as you move around) and laptops can connect via dongles or MiFi’s.

      With little leakage to outdoors, the sensitive satellite receivers in the 24-26GHz band would be unaffected.

  2. Avatar CarlT

    Incoming tin foil hat loons.

  3. Avatar Simon Farnsworth

    I wonder how this plays with 5G NR unlicensed operation? Are these bands going to end up being part of how a company replaces WiFi with a pure 5G NR play?

    Specifically, 5G NR-U standalone looks to be interesting with these bands – buy all your devices with dual-network 5G NR support, and run a private network for on-premises use at speed, while giving commercial SIMs to people who also need to be able to work outside the building.

  4. Avatar Michael V

    In reference to…
    5G indoor, we’re curious to know how they’d see that working (it’s a tricky band for indoor use due to being easily disrupted and very limited reach).

    I’d say that the power levels that the Wi-Fi hub can provide need to be higher than they currently are for 5GHz band that Wi-Fi currently users.
    Or give the customer the ability to adjust it based on their home set-up.

    I’d be happy to have mine at max power output.

  5. Avatar Meadmodj

    B or no B surely this was simply expected following the European Commission decisions coordination of the bands including the recent 26 GHz for 5G. Surely Ofcom are not “planning” anything but simply following agreements already made relating to interoperability and commercial availability etc.

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