Ofcom wants to free up a bunch more 5 GHz spectrum for wifi

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom is proceeding with a consultation to extend wifi access to an additional 125 MHz of spectrum in the 5.8 GHz band.

As ever with such things, the process involves publishing draft regulations, which anyone is invited to submit their ten-cents’ worth on. Usually this amounts to companies with a commercial interest on one side or the other arguing their case, after which Ofcom makes a call – Often to do what it had already decided to do before the consultation started.

A May 2016 consultation on the 5 GHz band identified a few options:

  • Short term: Opening up spectrum at 5725 -5850 MHz for wifi;
  • Medium term: Re-examining the technical requirements for wifi – such as those designed to protect radars – to ensure they remain fit for purpose and are no more restrictive than necessary;
  • Mediumer term: Promoting wifi use under the existing primary mobile allocation in 5850 -5925 MHz;
  • Long term: Removing outdoor restrictions on wifi access to the 5150 – 5350 MHz range; and
  • Longer term: Opening up spectrum at 5350-5470 MHz.

Having consulted Ofcom decided to proceed with plan A – i.e. the short term plan – citing increasing consumer demand for wifi as the driver. It has yet to make a call on the other stuff but smart money is on that coming to pass eventually.

Since it concerns wifi, this spectrum would be license exempt, and would require amendments to legislation that concerns that stuff but doesn’t, amazingly, require the seal of approval from Europe. Interested parties have until close of play 11 April to speak up.

ofcom 5 GHz diagram

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