Ofcom ponders Terahertz spectrum

UK comms regulator Ofcom reckons we can go even further along the electro magnetic spectrum in the search for spectrum.

‘New technology is now being developed which has the potential to open up spectrum at extremely high frequencies – the Terahertz spectrum,’ says the update on the Ofcom spectrum management page. ‘We want to start a dialogue on how to ensure this spectrum is managed in the best way possible to support both existing and innovative new uses.’

It then links to a 13-page PDF titled ‘Unlocking the potential of Terahertz radio spectrum’, which starts with the standard talk of how handy spectrum is before lamenting that the best of it is already accounted for. Terahertz picks up where millimetre wave leaves off – the 100 GHz mark – and takes it all the way to 3 THz.

“The development of compact, mass market equipment capable of using these high frequencies could open up a range of possibilities,” explains the report. “Uses might include terabit speed wireless links in datacentres and outdoors; highly accurate positioning to aid robotics and autonomous vehicles; and high-resolution imaging and sensing to generate holograms. There is also academic interest in combining these features in future 6G networks and devices.”

The challenges Ofcom anticipates to the use of THz in telecoms are mainly bureaucratic, but surely the biggest one is that it’s rubbish. The reason mmwave hasn’t really taken off is its poor propagation characteristics and, presumably, THz is an order of magnitude worse still. That’s not to say we won’t find ways to mitigate this weakness and thus unlock acres of fresh spectrum, but until that’s sorted out there seems to be little point in agonising over the global regulation of it.

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