In its newly released five-year roadmap for fixed wireless in the UK, Ofcom has outlined its intention to release new 60 GHz spectrum to enable 5G use cases – particularly those that require high capacity and very low latency.
The regulator says it will take immediate steps to enable licence-exempt access to 14 GHz of spectrum in the 60 GHz band. This will be through regulatory change in the 57-66 GHz range, as well as making new spectrum available at 66-71 GHz. The latter, Ofcom’s report notes, can support new 5G use cases for mobile/portable equipment.
Ofcom’s report follows consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and network operators.
Ofcom concluded that increasing demand for mobile services, including 5G, is a key driver affecting the future needs of and for fixed wireless links. Fixed wireless networking provides wireless connectivity between fixed points, and fixed wireless links are typically used for backhaul or access connectivity. Example applications include backhaul provision for mobile base stations; distributing TV signals from studios to broadcast transmitter sites; connecting nodes within private or corporate communication networks; emergency services communications backhaul; and broadband for last-mile connectivity.
The report notes that future fixed wireless links will be required to carry very high capacity traffic, such as backhaul for 5G.
Future fixed wireless
It says ten bands currently used for fixed wireless links are being considered for alternative uses as part of international 5G discussions. This may mean existing fixed wireless links need to be moved out of current bands if future sharing is not possible.
Ofcom is working towards making the 3.6-3.8 GHz and 26 GHz band available for 5G and has also identified 40.5-43.5 GHz as a priority band to study for future 5G use. The 3.8-4.2 GHz band is also being considered by Ofcom for enhanced sharing.
The report notes: “We will focus our policy efforts on continuing to enable growth in the fixed wireless services sector taking into account the changes in spectrum use and requirements by other services. We will do this by providing access to spectrum in ways that enables uses that provide the most benefits to citizens and consumers.
“This will include the appropriate international frameworks and negotiating at an international level to achieve our objectives. We will also continue to monitor developments in this sector to understand where we may need to take further action in the future.”
Useful read: What is 5G?