UK makes a head start with 5G

16 April 2013 |


British policy makers have claimed they are already looking at stage two of the country's superfast mobile broadband roll-out, through 5G, a month after the UK's 4G spectrum auction.

UK watchdog Ofcom is expected to launch an industry consultation this week on creating radio frequency space to run high-speed 5G internet services.

The UK’s 4G roll-out came considerably later than other developed countries, and this early movement towards 5G indicates an attempt to avoid delays for stage two, as well as address the increasing demand for higher capacity.

“There are three ways to meet the demand for more data – more spectrum, better use of spectrum and more cell sites,” said Steve Unger, CTO at Ofcom.

“We need to progress on all three fronts, which is in effect what we mean by 5G, to meet the 80-fold increase in data usage we predict by 2030.”

This week, the University of Surrey in the UK is hosting the European Wireless Conference focussing on 5G technologies, to be developed at the institution, which is hoped to respond to the expected “spectrum crunch” in 2020.

“Spectrum crunch will basically mean a shortage of supply and rising prices for users, leading to a widening gap between the technology ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, smaller markets for businesses and restrictions on the development of web-enabled technologies, products and services,” said Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of the centre for communication systems research at the University of Surrey. 

Ofcom was conscious of the movement to 5G last November but it is still in competition with other countries around the globe for leadership.

NTT DoCoMo in Japan is said to already be testing mobile services at speeds 1,000 times faster than 4G services, and at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year Neelie Kroes, of the European Commission, flagged Asia and America as countries to keep up with in terms of 5G.