5G is very much a future thing and, despite how much various mobile industry players want to push their own ideas, it’s currently very ill-defined. Nonetheless, the regulators of the airwaves need to think ahead, and the U.K.’s Ofcom is doing just that.
On Friday Ofcom launched a consultation on the use of spectrum above 6GHz for 5G services after 2020. These are pretty high frequencies as mobile communications go, but they’re in the zone that many see as the base for what they want 5G to be – high-bandwidth (maybe 10-50 gigabits per second), low latency, not great at operating over long distances, but maybe usable for delivering mobile broadband with the right arrays and beam-forming techniques. (Over in the U.S., the FCC is looking to 24GHz and up.)
Seeing as we barely know what 5G is supposed to be just yet, spelling out its use cases is a bit of a rocky job. According to Ofcom:
The spectrum… could support a variety of uses, ranging from financial trading and entertainment to gaming and holographic projections, with the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, like city centres.
A picture on that page depicts a vision of real-time holographic video communications. Well, this is five years into the future after all, and whatever 5G is, it will likely have a lot of bandwidth to play with.
“5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G,” acting Ofcom CEO Steve Unger said in the statement. “No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.”
Right now, the territory north of 6GHz is used for a variety of things, such as satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring. As telecoms regulator, Ofcom will need to make sure everything can coexist nicely. Those who want to share their views with Ofcom about the use of spectrum over 6GHz for 5G purposes should let the regulator know by February 27th.