Ofcom to open mmWave spectrum
Written by: Richard Hook | Published:
Girl using mobile phone in train station mmWave spectrum could be particularly beneficial in locations and venues with a lot of mobile users (Credit: Ofcom)

Regulator Ofcom has announced plans to open the millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum to mobile technology and 5G services across the 26 GHz and 40 GHz spectrum bands.

According to Ofcom, the use of mmWave spectrum could deliver “significant benefits by enabling large wireless data capacity and speed over short distances” to improve mobile broadband services across the UK. As well as mobile services, mmWave spectrum could also support innovative wireless applications including virtual reality, factory automation, and intelligent transport systems in the future.

It is expected the technology could be applied in locations and venues with a lot of mobile users such as train stations, football stadiums and concerts, where demands on current networks can mean mobile data speeds can be sluggish.

Ofcom has said its proposals will include plans to revoke fixed links licences in some areas and to make a combination of citywide and local licences available in the 26 GHz band as well as variations or revoking existing licences in the 40 GHz band.

As part of wider proposals to unlock new and innovative wireless technologies for everyday use, Ofcom said it was also planning to increase the amount of spectrum available for Short-Range Device (SRD) uses including for road safety, low power Wi-Fi and drones. These devices include portable consumer-tech products such as keyless entry cards, baby monitors and garage door openers.

A spokesperson for Ofcom said: “Our plans also include liberalising the technical conditions for some Ultra-Wideband (UWB) devices for keyless car-entry systems. This will enable the use of a special mitigation technology called ‘trigger before transmit’, which, in turn, will make keyless entry systems more secure, and reduce the risk of opportunistic thefts, or ‘relay attacks’, where criminals intercept the key-fob signal.”

Alongside these proposals, Ofcom has also this week agreed to consider certain spectrum licences held by Vodafone and Telefónica, which would allow them to deploy new technologies including 5G. The regulator has proposed changes to the technical conditions for Vodafone’s licences in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum bands to make them technology neutral, to enable the deployment of the next generation of mobile technologies; and Vodafone’s and Telefónica’s 2.6 GHz licences in the 2570 to 2620 MHz sub-band to relax the technical parameters between the two operators.

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