Research Service analyses mmWave bands in Ofcom auction

Ofcom is planning to assign the 26 and 40 GHz bands, but those eager to use them still have to be patient.

| Jonathan Watson

UK regulator Ofcom has confirmed its plan to auction spectrum licences in the 26 and 40 GHz bands in large towns and cities, PolicyTracker reported this week.

The announcement represents a significant step forward for 5G use of the bands. They have been much discussed in recent years—especially the 26 GHz band—but real-world use cases remain frustratingly out of reach.

There are high hopes in high places for the auction. Qualcomm thinks it could be a game-changer for the mmWave bands in Europe and has urged Ofcom to assign the bands as soon as possible.

The company must be disappointed to learn that the process will have to wait until competition regulators have delivered their verdict on the proposed merger of Vodafone and Three in the UK.

However, Ofcom’s decision is not a surprise. Any approval of the merger is likely to involve major spectrum divestments. Until all the MNOs know what those are, it will be difficult for them to decide on their mmWave auction strategy.

Some MNOs are already using the 40 GHz band, having won the spectrum at a 2008 auction. Three holds spectrum in its own right as well as via its MBNL joint venture with EE. So does the managed networks specialist MLL. However, those licences can only be used for fixed services.

To find out more about global plans for 26 GHz and 40 GHz, check out PolicyTracker‘s profiles of the bands. They are available as part of the Spectrum Research Service.

Subscribers to the service can access them here, along with detailed profiles of all the other bands used or earmarked for 4G and 5G.


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