Spectrum – 5G Shared Access in the UK
Important steps are being taken to increase the range of spectrum options for 5G in the UK, moving towards a stage where 5G will be able to serve a range of potential use cases and realize its full performance potential. As a reminder, the key spectrum identified for 5G in the UK and EU is as follows:
700 MHz (band n28 – within 5G “low band”), FDD with a maximum of 20 MHz uplink/downlink paired per carrier.
Provides a basic “coverage layer”, useful for some IoT and a wide range of low-speed coverage/reliability/availability applications. However, it has very low capacity due to its low bandwidth and is not able to optimally use many of the benefits of 5G due to this bandwidth and low frequency (long wavelength) and FDD.
3.4-3.8 GHz (the vast majority of the n78 band – within the “mid-band”) 5G, TDD with a maximum of 100 MHz per carrier.
Higher capacity due to the availability of FR1 100 MHz maximum carrier bandwidth and the ability to handle higher data rates (up to almost 1 Gbps – and higher under some MIMO scenarios) and correspondingly many 5G use cases. Thanks to TDD duplexing and frequency, it is also able to better serve the technologies that are increasingly prevalent or enabled by 5G – such as MIMO/mMIMO.Current 5G deployments in the UK and much of the world use the 3.4-3.6 GHz mid-band sub-band or more recently up to 3.68 GHz in the UK including the 3.605-3.68 GHz spectrum of the three UK (recently Ofcom expanded downward to 3.6GHz, allowing Three to use a continuous 100MHz at 3.58-3.68GHz including the 3.58-3.6GHz spectrum it also owns).