Report: current UK spectrum model won’t do for 5G
Written by: Philip Mason | Published:

A ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to spectrum will not suffice during the roll-out of 5G, according to a paper published this week by the University of Surrey. The report was authored in collaboration with the university’s partners from the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) Testbed and Trials programme.

According to the document, “competition and public financing” will not be enough to fill the coverage gaps found in previous mobile broadband iterations. Therefore, without “serious and imaginative” thought as to how the four main spectrum bands (700 MHz, 3.4 to 3.8 GHz, 26GHz and 57 to 71 GHz) could be used, the “promise of 5G may not be fully realised.”

Key recommendations include investment in further trials in relation to spectrum usage in rural areas, as well as exploring different models of spectrum management and licensing in locations with varying levels of population. The report also recommends continuing engagement with Ofcom’s consultation on opportunities for innovation in shared spectrum access.

Speaking of these conclusions, regius professor Rahim Tafazolli, founder of the 5GIC at the University of Surrey, said: “We are obviously excited about 5G, but we are determined that the technologies benefit as many communities as possible in our country. There has been huge innovation in 5G technologies - we also need innovation in usage of scarce and precious spectrum.

“The points raised in this discussion paper are important and should be used as a starting point for open dialogue between businesses and regulators for the benefit of all, considering the important role of mobile network operators and their massive contributions to economy and society.”

Mark Stansfeld, chair of the Worcestershire 5G Testbed, said: "The Worcestershire 5G Consortium is a prime example of public and private sectors working together with mobile network operators to create the type of collaborative environment required to exploit 5G.

"5G innovation will drive forward productivity and the British economy and I am proud that the Worcestershire 5G Consortium is helping to create a connected, creative and dynamic economy for businesses."

The report was produced as part of the UK’s 5G Testbed and Trials programme, with contributions also coming from the AutoAir project, 5G RuralFirst and Worcestershire 5G Testbed.

The University of Surrey anticipates that 5G could contribute around £10 billion a year to the UK economy, if the recommendations contained in the report are adopted.

Further reading:

Major autonomous vehicle project launched at Millbrook

The UK's trinity of 5G

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