Satellite Bulletin: Spectrum above 6GHz - Ofcom's call for input - Your chance to be heard

By Joanne Wheeler


Ofcom are seeking information on the use of spectrum above 6 GHz for 5G mobile services, taking into account other existing and potential uses of this spectrum including by satellite operators.

5G is expected to benefit from the use of spectrum at higher frequencies (above 6GHz) due to the greater bandwidth that may be available which could support significantly higher speeds. Technological innovations are also now beginning to enable use of such higher frequencies. In fact technology solutions for 5G/IMT mobile services are being developed in frequency bands above 31 GHz; Samsung have already tested 5G systems around 39 GHz and 5G RLAN systems at around 61 GHz.

Ofcom are, however, unclear as to what specific bands above 6GHz might be most suitable for introducing 5GHz mobile services - also considering other users of the spectrum.

There has already been much support for a new agenda item for the ITU WRC-19 on bands above 6GHz, in an effort to facilitate the introduction of 5G systems in the early 2020s. A future agenda item looking at all bands above 6GHz, however, will be too broad for the ITU-R study groups and a future WRC to manage effectively. Ofcom are therefore seeking information from the industry to narrow down the range of bands to be considered for 5G, which will include the extent to which sharing of spectrum will be possible.

Existing uses of spectrum above 6GHz
Spectrum above 6GHz is already being used for various services, including Fixed Satellite Services (FSS) within the bands 17.3 - 21.2 GHz and 27.0 - 31.0 GHz (Ka-band). These bands will remain important for the future growth of the satellite industry. Satellite operators are also looking to use several bands above 30/31GHz.

Next steps
The closing date for responses is 27 February 2015. Ofcom then plan to publish a response and update in the second quarter of 2015, which will also include the results of technical research that Ofcom have commissioned. The output will also inform Ofcom's position at WRC-15 and its contribution to future international discussions, including European preparatory meetings for WRC-15, which will feed into a future WRC-19 agenda item on bands above 6GHz.

There are growing requests from the satellite community that Ofcom, and indeed other regulators across Europe, should not pursue action at the CEPT or ITU level to promote the allocation of the Ka-band for the implementation of 5G systems. Regulators, CEPT and the ITU could instead consider bands above 31.0 GHz for 5G use.

Interested parties are advised to respond to Ofcom's Call for Input in due time.