UK communications regulator Ofcom has identified a number of new spectrum bands that could be used to underpin future mobile broadband use.
The identified bands include 2.3GHz, 2.4GHz and 700MHZ. They are currently in use by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and digital terrestrial TV broadcasts, respectively.
Ofcom said that the MoD’s spectrum could be relocated and these bands could go up for auction as early as 2015-2016, adding that any repurposing of the 700MHz TV band is unlikely to happen before 2018.
Ofcom estimates that this new spectrum could boost mobile data capacity by more than 25 times between now and 2030.
It said the spectrum identified represents approximately seven times the amount of spectrum released as part of the 4G auction earlier this year, which was the largest ever sale of airwaves in the UK.
The regulator said that, as well as providing better mobile services for consumers, the spectrum could be used to fuel the growth of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the ‘internet of things’.
The internet of things has the potential to deliver significant benefits to society in areas such as transport, healthcare, energy and agriculture. Globally, up to 50 billion devices are forecast to be connected to the internet by the end of the decade.
“The demands for mobile data will only increase as millions more wireless devices connect to the internet and each other," said Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom.
“We’re looking at ways to use spectrum more efficiently and consider future releases of prime spectrum. By doing so, we can help to meet the significant demands placed on our wireless infrastructure and develop one of the world’s leading digital economies.”
Chinese networking giant Huawei announced earlier this month that it plans to invest £373m in 5G over the next five years.
While there is no fixed definition available for 5G yet, the Shenzhen-headquartered company predicts it will be 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks and capable of achieving peak data rates of 10Gbps, before it becomes commercially available in 2020.