5G

Ofcom’s Spectrum Management Strategy for the 2020’s

Ofcom has published a statement on its spectrum strategy, identifying three areas of increased focus:

Supporting wireless innovation: Making it even easier for a broad range of users to access spectrum by making more spectrum available for innovation before its long-term future use is certain; working to support innovation in new wireless technologies; and expanding work to understand, assist and inform the broad range of organisations who may benefit from wireless technologies in the future. (more…)

Government launches SONIC Labs

The government has launched a real-world testing facility, SONIC Labs, to help accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and help Britain diversify its supply chain. The lab will bring in multiple providers to supply components for 5G radio equipment. It is being run by Ofcom and Digital Catapult, who have built the facility using existing Digital Catapult infrastructure and capability, £1 million of seed funding from DCMS, and a bespoke SONIC Labs branch as part of Ofcom’s Innovation Lab in Riverside House. It will work with a diverse range of vendors to explore new open approaches to telecoms networks.

This is part of the government’s Diversification Strategy and follows the establishment of the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce aimed at reducing the reliance on high-risk vendors and bringing more players into the market.

London’s tube network to be used to provide fibre and mobile connectivity to London

The London Mayor announced that high speed mobile coverage will be delivered across the London Underground network, alongside a new full-fibre network to provide London’s homes and businesses with faster internet and better connectivity.  The technology will support 4G and 5G rollout and will be the most advanced of its kind in the world, helping to support London’s economic growth. Work is underway across the Tube network, with first stations – including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Bank and Camden Town – going live by the end of 2022. (more…)

Terms of Reference for Ofcom’s Mobile Strategy Review

As outlined in its Plan of Work 2021/22, Ofcom has published the terms of reference for its upcoming mobile strategy review. The aim of the review is to consider the following key areas:

  • What will good outcomes for people and businesses look like in 5-10 years’ time?
  • What impact are changes across the mobile value chain having on the market?
  • To what extent is the market likely to deliver good outcomes for people and businesses?

(more…)

National Security and Investment Act  

The new National Security and Investment Act enhances the government’s ability to investigate and intervene in mergers, acquisitions and other deals that could threaten the UK’s national security. The new measures are designed to simplify and speed up the investment screening process for investors and businesses. A new Investment Council will act as an advisory body to the UK government on foreign investment, made up of private sector global senior leaders from a variety of industries, including technology and infrastructure. The Council will operate alongside the recently formed Office for Investment, tasked with landing high-value investment opportunities in infrastructure, clean technologies and R&D.  (more…)

Proposed changes to permitted development rights

A joint technical consultation between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been published today. It follows an earlier consultation in 2019 on the principle of the reforms. Views are being sought on proposed planning reforms that will allow the speedier deployment of telecoms equipment while keeping safeguards in place. (more…)

Spectrum auction moves to the negotiation period

Following the announcement of the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz band principal stage winners, Ofcom has confirmed that the auction has moved into a period of negotiation. Bidders have the opportunity to negotiate the frequency positions among themselves in order to facilitate trades to join together the frequencies they have secured with spectrum they already hold in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band.

The first phase of this negotiation period runs until 16 April 2021. If a second phase is required, this is expected to take place between 19 and 23 April 2021.

Full details of the various stages of the auction can be found here.

Ofcom Spectrum auction – principal stage results published

Ofcom has announced the outcome of the first round of the auction which has raised £1,356,400,000 for the Treasury.

Results:

  • EE Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000; 20 MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £4,000,000; and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.
  • Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000.
  • Vodafone Limited has won 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £176,400,000.
  • Telefónica UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000, and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.

(more…)

Ofcom spectrum auction starts today

After a pause in the process, bidding in the principal stage begins today. The UK’s four main mobile networks – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – will bid for spectrum in two different frequency bands:

  • The 700 MHz band: 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band is being released. These airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage – including in the countryside.
  • The 3.6-3.8 GHz band: 120 MHz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band is being released. These airwaves are part of the primary band for 5G and capable of boosting mobile data capacity, carrying lots of data-hungry connections.

(more…)

Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill passes through Parliament

The Telecoms Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill has successfully passed through parliament and is set to become law.

As a reminder, the Bill was introduced in late 2019 with the aim of allowing fixed broadband providers to gain access to multiple dwelling buildings (blocks of residential flats and apartments) in order to deploy, upgrade or maintain fixed-line broadband connections where a landlord has repeatedly failed to respond. The forthcoming law will place an obligation on landlords, via the Electronic Communications Code, to facilitate the deployment of digital infrastructure and enable providers to use magistrates courts to gain entry to properties.

In parallel, the consultation on further potential changes to the Electronic Communications Code is is underway on whether to make further changes to help improve the process between landowners and providers.

 

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee publishes its report on 5G market diversification

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee’s Second Report 5G market diversification and wider lessons for critical and emerging technologies highlights the dependency of the UK’s 5G rollout on just two vendors, posing risks to network resilience and security.

Drawing on evidence taken throughout the course of the inquiry, the report warns against repeating mistakes as new and important technologies evolve. MPs have called on the government to publish a white paper within 12 months with an action plan. The paper should assess the risks of global technological divergence of standards, identify critical emerging technologies, risks of dependency on high-risk vendors, and set out the government’s proposed response. The report sets out a series of recommendations for the current telecommunications rollout, recently addressed in the government’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy. (more…)