Future spectrum allocation up for discussion across the UK

02 November 2023

Ofcom may change the way in which radio spectrum for the next generation of wireless broadband networks is allocated. Going forwards, greater emphasis may be placed on spectrum sharing and flexible access, which will significantly impact network operators, enterprises, and the way business is done, across the UK.

Ofcom is considering the future introduction of new versions of WiFi (beyond WiFi 7) and 6G mobile, as well as a range of new wireless technologies and deployment models, such as connectivity from the sky and space (non-terrestrial networks or NTNs). Significant improvements in availability, reliability, performance, and choice are expected from these. The regulator refers to such future networks under the blanket term Next Generation Wireless Broadband (NGWB) technologies.

Radio based sensors are likely to play an increasing role in the operation of wireless networks and offer new functionality for applications that run over them – such as positioning and sensing for autonomous robots and data collection for digital twin applications.

Such capabilities maybe particularly valuable when deployed within local networks in industrial sites such as factories and warehouses. With advances in signal processing and antenna design, combined sensing and communications technologies could become a future feature of NGWB networks.