694 to 960 MHz capacity benefits small compared to 5G, report finds

By Sarah Wray 6 August 2018

UHR report

The capacity benefits achieved through defragmenting the 694-960 MHz band would be small compared to those brought by technologies such as 5G. This is a key finding from a new report commissioned by the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (SPF) and written by LS telcom UK. 

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum commissioned the study to look at whether it would be practical and feasible to defragment the 694 to 960 MHz UHF (ultra high frequency) band. This followed proposals put forward by Aetha Consulting in November 2017. The proposals suggested that defragmenting the band could offer important benefits such as greater capacity, ‘future-proof’ spectrum and secured access for Digital Terrestrial Television services below 694 MHz. 

Aetha outlined a number of potential ways ahead and the proposals gained a significant amount of interest in the UK and internationally.


However, LS telecom’s report finds that the overall benefits would be small compared to those which 5G will bring alongside the use of higher frequency bands. Further, LS telecom’s study concludes that the proposed defragmentation would be too expensive for mobile operators, because they would need to upgrade each base station in their network.

The report researchers note the difficulty of understanding what a mobile network might look like in 2030 but conclude there is “no justification” for taking the defragmentation work forward.

Based on the findings of the report, the UK Spectrum Policy Forum has recommended that at the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC) 2019 next year, Ofcom and the UK government should back an agenda item for WRC23 on reviewing how UHF 470-960 MHz is used and will be used beyond 2030. The discussion should take note of LS telecom’s report findings, the Forum notes.

The working agenda item for ITU WRC-23 includes reviewing mobile and broadcasting requirements in the 470-960 MHz band.

Towards 2030

David Meyer, chair of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum, said: “ This SPF-commissioned report determined that significant benefits from major changes within the 694-960MHz do not seem likely in the mid to long term. Should there be changes to the co-primary users of the band in response to business needs, the position for the band beyond 2030 should be reviewed.” 

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum was set up at the UK Government’s request and advises the Government and Ofcom on key spectrum policy issues.

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About Sarah Wray

Technical Writer at 5G.co.uk

Sarah Wray is a technical writer with over 10 years' experience writing about technology, including telecoms, smart cities, data, IoT, aerospace, and more.

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