Ofcom has released plans to ensure that the growing use of
mobile doesn’t reach "capacity crunch” to protect the Digital Terrestrial
Television (DTT) spectrum. The plans include enabling the release of new
airwaves for future generations to help keep up with demand.
As well as publishing their tactics, the regulator has also
published the latest data on "the UK’s communications infrastructure, which
shows that 20 million Gigabytes of data is now being consumed in a year”.
This equates to downloading 5 billion music tracks and has
doubled since last year. Ofcom predict that by 2030 mobile data demand could be
80 times higher than it is at the moment, meaning more mobile spectrum is going
to be required over the long term.
Ofcom is already looking at the spectrum release for 5G,
when it becomes available, on which, as we reported
last month, research has already begun.
The new plans intent to "draw on the 700 MHz frequency band”,
which at the moment is used for DTT and believe that releasing the new
frequencies can be achieved without another TV switchover.
Ofcom state that countries across the globe use the same
frequencies so that manufacturers can widen the choice of handsets and result
in cheaper costs for consumers.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: "Within the coming
months we will hold the UK’s largest-ever auction of mobile spectrum for 4G.
However, that may not be enough to meet consumers’ future data demands, which
is why we are already making significant efforts to prepare to go beyond 4G.
"Our plans are designed to avoid a ‘capacity crunch’,
ensuring that the UK’s mobile infrastructure can continue to support the
inescapable growth in consumer demand and economic growth more generally.”
On the future of DTT, the regulator plans to protect it by
making sure that alternative frequencies are available for it when the fifth
generation of mobile broadband is released "towards the end of the decade”.The UK demand for data is shown in Ofcom’s Infrastructure Report update, which has been published