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Ofcom UK Propose More 28GHz Spectrum to Boost Satellite Broadband

Friday, Aug 18th, 2023 (11:55 am) - Score 1,440
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The UK telecoms and media regulator, Ofcom, has today proposed to make 448MHz of the spectrum frequency in the 28GHz band (27.5–30GHz) available to satellite broadband services, specifically their Earth station gateways, which could help to boost data speeds and further expand coverage into remote communities.

Parts of the 28GHz band are already allocated to a mix of fixed wireless and satellite uses under two different authorisations. But earlier this year the regulator agreed to vary the national 28GHz Spectrum Access licence held by Arqiva at its request, to limit the scope of its licence to only authorise use of this spectrum at three locations until July 2026, which resulted in the return to Ofcom of 448MHz of “unassigned spectrum“.

NOTE: O2 (VMO2), UK Broadband, and Vodafone are some of the band’s current licensees.

Ofcom now wants to make both the unassigned spectrum and the four “guard bands” (usually used as a separator to prevent interference between users), in the 28GHz spectrum band, available to Non-geostationary satellite (NGSO) Earth station gateways and Geostationary satellite (GSO) gateways (Permanent Earth stations – PES). This could be of particular benefit to satellite broadband operators, such as Starlink and OneWeb etc.

Satellite gateways are typically placed at single sites and will thus only have a limited effect on other users, which means there’s still scope for other users to share access to this spectrum in the future, and Ofcom will consult on that toward the end of 2023.

Otherwise, Ofcom’s consultation will run until 29th September 2023, and they then plan to publish their decision during the autumn.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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9 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Biden Crime Family says:

    Would you say this satellite capacity situation just confirms projects like Scotland’s R100 fibre broadband project are total failures?

    Where 100% of properties were said to receive 1Gb fibre no matter of cost or location. 100% means 100% otherwise call the project something sensible and realistic rather than scathing lies and upsetting the public with unfulfilled promises.

    OFCOM also want to reduce broadcast UHF to a bare minimum of muxes; auctioning off the spectrum to Mobile Telco’s all of which still won’t get rolled out to cover anywhere that really needs it; instead only where lucratively ‘profitable’

    What a strategical mess we are sleepwalking into and geostationary satellite broadband is only useful for checking webmail so how will anyone stream World Cup HD broadcast TV over it?

    Would be better allocating this band to point-to-point microwave links or Fixed Wireless Access for the communities that have been lied to?

    1. Avatar photo anon says:

      “geostationary satellite broadband is only useful for checking webmail”
      what a load of hogwash. Eutelsat-Konnect is up to 75mbit and 35-50 is normal.
      Netflix say you need 15 mbit for UHD 4K. You realise you can’t just type utter rubbish on a website frequented by many tech people who will know instantly when you BS it right?

    2. Avatar photo Biden Crime Family says:

      It’s not rubbish?

      I’m essentially highlighting that satellite demand comes from a total lack of other choices.

      The order of take-up; based on value-vs-speed-vs-price (1) FTTP/C, (2) FWA, (3) Cellular (4) Satellite

      Choosing satellite is the very last option (IE nothing else works)

      A geostationary satellite transponder shares contention ratio with an entire country or continent depending on beam/frequency reuse.

      KONNECT on ISPreview pages is listed as 20 Meg down / 3 Meg up

      I don’t think you’d get a 20Meg continuous stream anyway, maybe just 20 Meg peak at 2-4am?

      Besides if all I had was 50Gb month satellite data allowance; I would not use much for streaming TV but instead use linear transmission via FreeSat and order my shopping online instead, although if I’m using satellite broadband for that, I probably won’t get the geographical coverage from supermarket deliveries or Royal Mail either?

    3. Avatar photo anon says:

      it IS rubbish.

      You said it’s only useful for checking webmail. Gross exaggeration.
      That page also lists starlink as 25-100mbit, when people on the forums and on reddit are capable of getting 200-300mbit. It varies.

      Even if Konnect was 20mbit (it’s not) then that would be good enough to stream TV. Wouldn’t it. And not just “for checking webmail”.

    4. Avatar photo Biden Crime Family says:

      When Starlink was launched, there was a huge uptake of customers to Elon Musk’s new company which suggests in itself the incumbent Sat Broadband services were completely rubbish (unusable) and the users literally couldn’t wait to swap to a better alternative? Why would that be? Slow speeds?

      According to Konnect website they are still using old VHS?
      “…Eutelsat KONNECT, our latest Very High Speed (VHS) satellite came into operation in 2020…”

      I’ve researched this satellite tonight and it does appear to have far superior specs compared to what was available a few years ago, other versions would share alternative transponders with DVB-S2 TV broadcasting.

      Lyngsat used to show individual transponders (ie 44Mbps each) reserved for data beams however this satellite appears dedicated and has 65 ka beams (full frequency reuse on each one) so I guess you now can try and stream Netflix over Konnect VHS 🙂

      Also on the T&C Konnect says no guarantee you can stream and there are still data limits of 50/75/150 Gb which seriously I think most households could use that in 1 week.

      Although you can wait till 1am-6am and use the free data for something.

      I still think Starlink is better value and speed after research

      Konnect Starter (50Gb)
      £37.90 Inc. VAT/month

      Konnect Lite (75Gb)
      £47.90 Inc. VAT/month

      Konnect Plus (150Gb)
      £67.90 Inc. VAT/month

      Versus Starlink (Unlimited but seemingly lower priority data- IE compared to Business packages)

  2. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    Is this the spectrum that was requested by starlink? If so it could have a good benefit for starlink speeds in the UK.

    “SpaceX have confirmed that they have the necessary commercial arrangements with 28GHz Licence Holders in the locations they are seeking to operate”

    1. Avatar photo William Wilkinson says:

      Hopefully it improves my Starlink performance!

  3. Avatar photo Orac says:

    This is just the rush by Sat/5g companies to get revenue, as they well know their revenues will drop when the country is on fibre (fttp/h/whatever)
    As this country could have led the world over 20 years ago with fibre (look it up unbelievers) a decision by the party in power at the time decided to choose inferior solutions.
    The current adsl/vdsl/fttp model is purely a political/fiscal flawed model and is not technical in the slightest.
    The same party are in power, overseeing a totally flawed complex roll out of fttp.

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      If you’re going to make it political, we should note that the other leading brand of shyster were in power for 13 years, and had ample opportunity to address the roll out of high speed broadband, and they chose to do absolutely nothing in respect of that. Admittedly they did other stuff, like forcing about £70bn of over-priced PFI deals onto the NHS, starting an illegal war on false pretences, selling off the UK’s gold reserves to realise a circa £3bn loss, flunked financial services regulation so directly contributing to a global financial crisis.

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