Printable version

Ofcom issues a fresh consultation on mmWave spectrum

UK regulator Ofcom has unveiled its plans to make mmWave spectrum available in the 26 GHz and 40 GHz bands by 2024.

Ofcom says that mmWave frequencies could deliver significant benefits by enabling large wireless data capacity and speed over short distances. The technology can be used to improve mobile broadband services and deliver innovative new services across the UK.

mmWave spectrum could not only be beneficial in locations and venues with a lot of mobile users, such as train stations, football stadiums and concerts, but it will also support innovative wireless applications requiring a large amount of data, very high speeds, or both, such as virtual reality, factory automation, and intelligent transport systems.

In its newly-launched consultation, Ofcom is proposing a new licensing regime for the 26 GHz band (24.25-27.5 GHz) – consisting of a combination of citywide and local licences available.

  • In the major towns and cities, where Ofcom expecst the highest volume of deployment, it plans to:
    •  assign local licences on a first come, first served basis in the lowest 850 MHz of the band, using its Shared Access licensing framework
    • auction city/townwide licences for upper 2.4 GHz of the band 
  • Elsewhere in the UK, where it expects rollouts to be sparser and so we propose to assign local licences on a first come, first served basis for all of the 26 GHz band through the Shared Access licensing framework

Ofcom says that this approach would enable efficient allocation of spectrum and support investment in new uses of mmWave spectrum from both wide area users and local users across the country.

In September 2019, the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (SPF) suggested a similar innovative spectrum sharing approach for the 5G pioneer band at 26 GHz.  UK SPF recommendations resulting from Real Wireless’ 26 GHz study included defining a ‘high-demand zone’ covering 1-3% of the UK, outside of which local licences would be appropriate for all prospective new users.

If you'd like to read more about the Real Wireless' report for UK SPF, please click here

Co-existence with incumbents

In the UK, Ofcom noted that the existing uses of the 26 GHz band include fixed point-to-point links; a satellite earth station; level crossing radars used by railway operators; ultra-wideband radar; a range of short-range devices; and programme-making and special events (PMSE). 

The UK Ministry of Defence also has access to the band but currently doesn’t have uses for it.

According to the consultation, existing fixed point-to-point links which currently operate in the 26 GHz band could receive interference from new uses, and this would likely constrain deployments of these uses in high density areas.

Consequently, Ofcom is proposing to revoke fixed link licences for the 26 GHz band in and around high-density areas, giving five years’ notice of revocation, as these could be accommodated in other frequency bands.

Fixed links that operate elsewhere in low density areas would remain in the band, while the other existing users of the 26 GHz band are expected to be be able to coexist with new uses.

40 GHz band

As for the 40 GHz band (40.5-43.5 GHz), Ofcom is seeking views are on options to make spectrum in this band available.

The 40 GHz band is already ‘block assigned’, and currently licensed to Hutchinson 3G UK Limited (H3G), Mobile Broadband Network Limited and MLL 40 GHz Limited. But the terms of their licences do not permit mobile use.

Accordingly, Ofcom is consulting on the following options:

  • varying existing licences to allow current licensees to deploy mobile services in the band
  • revoking existing licences and re-allocating the spectrum alongside the 26 GHz band
  • combinations of variation and revocation

Ofcom said it would potentially adopt a similar approach to allocating the 40 GHz band as its proposals for the 26 GHz band.

The consultation is due to close for responses on 18th July 2022


Channel website:

Original article link:

Share this article

Latest News from

Covid Survey Case Study – Coronavirus and Me