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UK comms watchdog mulls 5G tweaks: Operators want moooooar power

Oh and remove the guard bands, would you Ofcom?

Ofcom is amenable to technical tweaks that mobile operators have requested to 5G rules, launching a consultation yesterday.

The Big Four – Telefónica UK, Vodafone, BT's EE and Hutchison's Three – as well as fifth 5G licensee UK Broadband want to increase the power limits permitted in the 3.4Ghz, 3.5Ghz and 3.6Ghz spectrum licences from 25dBm to 28dBm, and move the guard band requirement above 3605MHz.

via ofcom

The tweaks would help mobile firms roll out 5G in the high frequency 3.4-3.6Ghz bands, by smoothing the path for Active Antenna Systems

"Ofcom is minded to grant the all of the licence variations," the regulator said in the consultation document (PDF, p2).

The licensees say that 5G's directional antennas (Active Antennae Base Stations, or AAS) – which use beam-forming technology – would benefit from tweaks to the technical conditions that are part of the licence.

Sorry, rural folks: that means ultrafast 5G for city dwellers – once enough of the compatible 5G kit is floating around. Only mugs will be using 5G hardware this year, noted one expert wag The Reg spoke to.

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"The practical effect of AAS for consumers could be a higher quality of service in busy areas once a significant number of users have devices which support the 3.4-3.8 GHz band," Ofcom writes in the consultation.

"This is because AAS enable massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) 15 which can increase the capacity of the radio access network in busy areas. As 3.4 to 3.8 GHz is a key frequency band for 5G services in the UK, the licence variations help to facilitate high capacity 5G services."

The consultation, which sounds like a done deal, is open until 19 May. ®

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