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Ofcom looks towards wireless ‘5G’ future

Steve Unger

Steve Unger

Ofcom is calling on the industry to help lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.

So-called ’5G’ mobile communications are expected to be able to use very high frequency spectrum – the raw material that underpins wireless services.

This spectrum, which is above 6 GHz, 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.

5G mobile is expected to be capable of delivering extremely fast data speeds – perhaps 10 to 50 Gbit/s – compared with today’s average 4G download speed of 15 Mbit/s.

5G services are likely to use large blocks of spectrum to achieve the fastest speeds, which are difficult to find at lower frequencies. Therefore, higher frequency bands, above 6 GHz, for example, will be important.

The timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, although commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to research and development and international agreements for aligning frequency bands.

“5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks, over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs,” comments Steve Unger, Ofcom Acting Chief Executive.

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