Ofcom sets target for 5G in UK

UK regulator Ofcom will publish formal 5G proposals this autumn, and expects to auction the licences in 2018, Steve Unger, CTO at Ofcom, told reporters.

Despite the very recent launch of 4G services in the UK by EE, Unger expects 5G services to begin a new era of “Smart Cities” and M2M communication.

“Everything from road vehicles to dustbins has the potential to be online, sending and receiving information to help make the country’s infrastructure more efficient,” Unger said.

“We are starting to consider which categories of smart devices will need licences from Ofcom, and which might be 'licence-exempt’ to allow greater flexibility.”

The UK regulator is expected to reveal next week that there are now 5 million smart devices in the country, up 30% on last year.

Last year, Ofcom stated the necessity of 5G in the near future, given the expected explosion in mobile data, and Unger reiterated his commitment to this preparation.

“We are all expecting major growth in mobile data, and if that’s happening, we need to be ready for it. If it doesn’t happen, there won’t be enough capacity to meet demand,” he said.

Unger also said that Ofcom is expecting to auction 5G licences in the 700MHz frequency band by 2018.