Ofcom: We need 5G spectrum planning for the future’s ultramobes

We’ll just have to make decisions based on ‘imperfect knowledge’

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Despite the majority of Reg readers thinking that 5G can wait, there needs to be some planning as to how spectrum will be allocated if the same frequencies are to be made available globally.

The need for international harmony on use of millimetre spectrum was the focus of a recent presentation by UK regulator Ofcom to the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam.

Andrew Hudson, director of spectrum policy, told delegates: “Everyone wants maximum flexibility to do what they want to do in the future, but it’s very difficult to say now exactly what they want to do in five, ten or 15 years time. So you have to try and make those spectrum decisions on imperfect knowledge.”

The 5G standards have not yet been set and a lot will depend on the outcomes from the World Radio Conference next November, which will set the global standards for the use of spectrum. What is clear is that the mobile world is looking for a lot of spectrum at very high frequencies.

Huawei has said that 5G will need at least 100MHz of contiguous spectrum, while Ericsson has proposed 500MHz. Providing the space to multiple operators will, of course, multiply the requirement.

“Do we focus our efforts on a very wide range of bands at a very broad level, or do we need to start focusing on a much smaller range of bands, where if we do that too soon, we could end up making the wrong choices,” Hudson said, according to GSMA site Mobile World Live.

“The risk if we don’t start thinking about specific bands is that we simply won’t get spectrum released in time for the 5G services that we all believe are going to be essential,” he added.

One currently unresolved issue, which will significantly affect the spectrum requirement, is the use of full duplex. ®

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