Ofcom wants 57-71 GHz band to be free for fixed wireless

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has reserved a bunch of unlicensed high frequency spectrum to be used for fixed wireless links.

Following the usual exhaustive consultation process the 57-66 GHz band has been cleared of interlopers so that the telecoms industry can use it for things like wireless backhaul, video transmission and fixed wireless access. At the same time it’s also in the process of freeing up the 66-71 GHz band and has launched a new consultation designed, it seems, to harmonise those two bands into one fat pipe of unlicensed fixed wireless goodness.

Here’s the Ofcom statement heralding the new consultation:

a) For short range wideband data transmission:

  • extend the current licence exemption and technical conditions (from 57 – 66 GHz) up to 71 GHz; and
  • introduce new technical conditions to allow licence exempt use of lower power equipment operating in a fixed outdoor installation in the 57 – 71 GHz band.

b) For fixed wireless systems:

  • extend the current licence exemption (from 57.1 GHz – 63.9 GHz) to 70.875 GHz, and by doing so, change the current authorisation approach for fixed wireless systems operating in the 64 – 66 GHz band from light licence to licence exempt; and
  • extend the current technical conditions (from 57.1 – 63.9 GHz) up to 70.875 GHz.

The deadline for this latest consultation is 6 August 2018. Presumably this is the opportunity for anyone currently using that spectrum for non-telecoms stuff to state their case, but this has the feeling of a done deal. While it won’t be used for actual 5G radio, having 14 GHz of clear spectrum for fixed wireless should contribute to the overall 5G effort, so this is welcome news.

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