Ofcom Confirms Approach for Expanding Spectrum Access for Future 5G Services

Following the recent consultation on Ofcom's Proposed Approach at 3.6-3.8 GHz, Ofcom has today confirmed its approach to expanding spectrum access for mobile services in the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz band.

The band has been identified by the UK and EU as the primary band for the rollout of 5G services, due to the large amount of spectrum available and its propagation characteristics. Currently the band is used by point to point fixed links, for a range of applications, also provides satellite services for space to Earth reception, and UK Broadband provides wireless broadband services using part of the band.

Ofcom consulted in September on the two primary options towards existing registered satellite earth station and fixed link users of the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz band.

a) Option A: to retain existing authorisations for fixed links and satellite earth stations; or

b) Option B: to remove current authorisations for fixed links and no longer take registered satellite earth stations with a receive component in the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz band into account for frequency management purposes.

In techUK’s response, techUK noted that if protection of satellite earth station reception in the band 3.6 to 3.8 GHz ceases it is important that future availability of the 3.8 – 4.2 GHz band for satellite use is confirmed and clarified by Ofcom, including suitable adjacent band protection. Some satellite-focussed techUK members believe that it is important to protect existing satellite earth stations. techUK called for Ofcom to identify alternative spectrum for those fixed link users to enable clearance by 2020, and suggested auctioning spectrum in the 3.4-3.6GHz band at the same time as spectrum in the 3.6-3.8GHz band.

Ofcom has now confirmed that it is starting the formal process to propose to remove current authorisations for fixed links and vary licences and grants of recognised spectrum access for satellite earth stations, to remove any receive frequencies in the band, following appropriate notice periods. Affected licensees and grantholders will each have a further opportunity to make representations on Ofcom’s proposals before final decisions in relation to individual licences and grants of RSA in the band.

Ofcom expects to publish a short update in early 2018, and will consult in 2018 in preparation for delivering the award of the remaining 116 MHz being made available in the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz band in 2019.


More information is available on techUK's Communications Infrastructure Programme.

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