18/09/2013

Ofcom consults on Spectrum Management Approach in the 70/80GHz bands

Ofcom, the Super regulator that looks after spectrum management is holding a consultation on proposals to change the management and authorisation approach used to manage the bands 71 - 76 GHz and 81 - 86 GHz (70 / 80GHz). These offer 2 x 4.75 GHz of bandwidth allowing very high capacity links (over 1Gb/s) which are not supported in lower frequency bands. These bands have been available for use since 2007.

Currently the spectrum is not managed at is up to the users of these bands to co-ordinate amongst themselves on use (self coordinated spectrum), though currently use of the spectrum is minimal compared to lower frequency bands. However with the rapid adoption of 4G services and the bandwidth that will be required to remote cell-sites, usage can be expected to rapidly increase and operators are now worried that self-coordinated management will not suffice as links in these bands will have to provide 99.99% to 99.999% availability, so any interference could be disastrous for mobile networks.

Ofcom is proposing to manage the spectrum in a mixed manner offering partial self-coordinated use and partial managed use.

    • Ofcom coordinated approach: 2 x 2 GHz
      Guard band: 2 x 250 MHz
      Self coordinated approach: 2 x 2.5 GHz
  • NOTE Image (C) Ofcom.

    This will allow non-critical links to be operated as now in the higher part of the bands while more critical services will be in the lower part of the bands managed by Ofcom (using the same regulatory environment as for fixed links in lower bands).

    This should be good news for users and backhaul links get very expensive very quickly and can limit the growth of a mobile network (in terms of coverage), so being able to use protected spectrum to maintain high bandwidth links to cell-sites and allowing the networks to provision more 4G cells.

    The full consultation is available on-line and stakeholders may respond here, the by 5th October 2013.

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