Broadband News

5G auction including crucial 700 MHz bands raises £1.3 billion

The latest Ofcom spectrum auction means that £1.3 billion has been raised by the sale of spectrum blocks in the 700 MHz and 3.6 - 3.8 GHz bands and these are specifically for use with the 5G standard.

5G is potentially a solution for delivering Gigabit broadband but that is not likely to be a reality until the 6 GHz and higher bands are in use in the UK.

The 700 MHz band of which EE, three and O2 won blocks in the auction is all about increasing the coverage of 5G and delivering a base line level of speed. The sort of speeds possible from 5G in the 700 MHz band should be in the region of 20 Mbps to 50 Mbps and the low frequency will be less impeded by obstacles such as trees. This band is the one previously used by Digital TV which has shuffled its channels around to clear the spectrum blocks for this sale. 

In short we expect the 700 MHz 5G blocks to play a part in meeting the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO).

The higher frequency band in the 3.6 - 3.8 GHz band will have less range and is likely to be added to existing masts to improve capacity supporting higher speeds. It is possible that with the right handsets and conditions combined with the MIMO capabilities of 5G that a very select few might see speeds well over the 500 Mbps mark but for true Gigabit 5G more spectrum at higher frequencies will be needed.

There is 4G already being used to meet the broadband USO but a switch to using 5G means using the newer standard with higher bandwidth possible in the same block of spectrum compared to 4G.

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