British telecoms regulator Ofcom has outlined plans to make more than 6GHz of millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum available across the 26GHz (24.25GHz-27.5GHz) and 40GHz (40.5GHz-43.5 GHz) bands for mobile technology, including 5G. In a press release regarding the development, the watchdog said the spectrum in question ‘has the potential to deliver significant benefits by enabling large increases in wireless data capacity and speeds, and we want to provide industry with certainty of access to this spectrum to enable timely investment and innovation’.
In a statement Ofcom has set out how it plans to allocate mmWave spectrum to best support new uses, while also consulting on proposals for the design of the auction for citywide licences, the terms and conditions for citywide and local mmWave licences and how it will coordinate users of this spectrum. As per the regulator’s proposals, in major towns and cities – where it anticipates the highest volume of mmWave deployment (‘high density areas’) – it plans to assign local licences on a first come, first served basis, using its ‘Shared Access licensing framework’, while it will award city/townwide licences by auction. Meanwhile, in ‘low density areas’, where deployments are expected to be sparser, Ofcom intends to assign local licences on a first come, first served basis for mmWave spectrum.
To allow for new spectrum allocations, Ofcom has said it will first need to clear the incumbent fixed wireless links which will not be able to coexist with mobile technology in this spectrum. As such, it has decided to start the statutory process to revoke: licences authorising fixed links in the 26GHz band which are likely to receive harmful interference from new uses; and all of the existing block assigned licences in the 40GHz band. Further, Ofcom has begun consulting on proposals for the design of the auction for citywide licences, the licence conditions for citywide and local mmWave licences and how it will coordinate users of this spectrums.
Responses to Ofcom’s consultation have been requested be a deadline of 22 May 2023.