Ofcom explores sharing 6GHz band to balance 5G and Wi-Fi needs – DIGIT.FYI

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The UK’s telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has unveiled a new paper detailing potential strategies for sharing the upper 6GHz radio spectrum band (6425 to 7125MHz) between 5G mobile networks and WiFi services. 

This exploration into hybrid sharing marks a significant step in balancing the competing demands for the upper 6GHz spectrum, aiming to maximise the benefits for both mobile broadband and consumer WiFi users while safeguarding existing spectrum users.

The upper segment of the 6GHz band remains contentious, with mobile operators advocating for its licensed use to enhance 5G speeds, while proponents of licence-exempt consumer WiFi argue for its allocation to home WiFi networks. 

Existing users of the band, including fixed services, satellite, radio astronomy, and PMSE (Programme Making and Special Events), seek to protect their current spectrum usage.

So far, Ofcom has not committed to either side of the debate. Instead, the regulator is investigating a “hybrid sharing” approach, which aims to allow both WiFi and mobile use within the same spectrum.

Ofcom’s latest paper presents two potential strategies for hybrid sharing. The first being the variable spectrum split, where both WiFi and mobile networks could use any part of the band not occupied by the other, with certain sections prioritised for each technology. 

Next is the indoor/outdoor split, since WiFi routers are typically used indoors and mobile base stations are usually outdoors, this approach would prioritise indoor WiFi use while allocating outdoor spectrum primarily for mobile networks.


Ofcom is actively working with the industry to develop a hybrid sharing framework and the necessary coexistence solutions, and a technical report on this topic expected in 2025, alongside a consultation on the specific mechanisms for authorising the upper 6GHz band.

In the meantime, the regulator plans to continue exploring various elements of the sharing framework and assessing the necessary trade-offs. As such, a practical resolution is anticipated by late 2025 or 2026, reflecting the need for thorough technological validation and multiple rounds of consultation.

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