U.K. Looks for 650 MHz More Wi-Fi and Mobile Spectrum

U.K. communications regulator Ofcom is investigating ways to free up up more mobile broadband and Wi-Fi spectrum over the next decade or two. Some think the effort could add up to 650 MHz of new Internet access spectrum.

Real Wireless thinks the spectrum effort could free up 300MHz of additional cellular spectrum, and 350 MHz for Wi-Fi. Some of that spectrum should be commercially available by 2020.

If so, Ofcom will make available perhaps seven times as much spectrum as was awarded as part of the recent Long Term Evolution 4G auctions, with initial thinking that all of the additional spectrum could be made available over about a 20 year period.

Ofcom estimates that this new spectrum could boost mobile data capacity by more than 25 times between now and 2030, when used in conjunction with more advanced mobile networks,

Among the candidates for redeployment are the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands. Currently licensed for use by the Ministry of Defense, Ofcom is working to make that spectrum available for auction between  2015 and 2016.

That shift of spectrum from public sector to private use is important since public entities use just over half of all U.K. spectrum.

Also being evaluated are some portions of  the 700 MHz band, used for digital TV broadcasting. Ofcom believes at least some of that spectrum could be released for mobile broadband use sometime after 2018.

The TV white spaces spectrum also is under investigation.

In addition, the 2.7 GHz radar band potentially could represent up to 100 MHz of spectrum.

Additional spectrum could be found in the 3.6 GHz band, which is currently used for satellite links. Mobile services might be able to share the band with existing satellite users.

There are any number of implications beyond the immediate matter of creating more potential mobile broadband spectrum. Making some of that new spectrum available necessarily will involve new ways of sharing spectrum.

And U.K. precedents should have implications for other regulatory authorities as well.
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