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Report: How 5G will launch in UK

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum (SPF) has launched a report on the critical success factors for deployment of 5G in the UK. The report prepared by Analysys Mason on behalf of the SPF, summarises the UK wireless industry’s views on how 5G will be introduced into the UK market, and the resulting spectrum implications.

Based on the work of the SPF spectrum applications and demand working group, the report makes a series of recommendations on the spectrum needs for 5G and the key policy actions required at the UK level to support these needs being met.

David Meyer, Chairman of the SPF, comments, “It’s vital that the UK takes global leadership of the development and implementation of 5G, to secure its place as a world-leading digital economy. This report highlights the breadth of technologies and services that will make use of 5G, and therefore how crucial it is to get implementation right.”

The discussions that have taken place within the SPF during 2016 recognise that 5G networks are poised to bring new mobile experiences to consumers as well as to provide wireless connectivity solutions that will meet the requirements of a range of vertical industries.  As such, the use cases being foreseen within 5G are extremely broad and include several industry segments that have traditionally operated dedicated networks outside the cellular network domain. Meeting these diverse user requirements will require a range of spectrum bands to be used, spanning from bands below 1GHz up to bands in the millimetre-wave portion of radio spectrum that are being studied internationally in accordance with ITU-R Resolution 238, as defined by the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2015.

Use of millimetre-wave bands will be particularly focussed on the highest-capacity outdoor and indoor hotspots (requiring very high data rates and volumes of traffic). Considering that 5G networks are unlikely to be commercially available before 2020 in many markets, innovative new applications and services are likely to emerge that will place increasing demands for access to suitable spectrum.

On millimetre-wave bands, the SPF is supportive of the UK regulator’s current position arising from the various European and international working groups on 5G spectrum that focus should be on frequency bands that have the greatest potential to be globally harmonised, while also taking account of the need to consider the early harmonisation of a pioneer band in Europe. The SPF urges Ofcom to continue to promote these positions in Europe and internationally.

Noting that Ofcom plans to award new mobile spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.4–3.8GHz bands in the UK, the SPF notes these could also support initial deployment of services for 5G. Key to the success of 5G in the UK will be the timely award of spectrum licences in these bands, with suitable conditions for 5G deployment. In addition, sub-6GHz bands already licensed for 2G, 3G and 4G mobile will continue to be needed, and the networks deployed in those bands are expected to evolve towards 5G based on market demand.

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