Ofcom is inviting comments on an idea it has which would see the upper 6 GHz spectrum band be shared by Wi-Fi and mobile traffic. Other proposals from the industry would see the spectrum used for either mobile or Wi-Fi, but not both.
The UK digital regulator said that rather than choosing to give the spectrum to mobile or Wi-Fi, an alternative exists where they could be both used in the band. It has dubbed this approach ‘hybrid sharing’ and has provided two examples of how it could be implemented.
Outlining the two approaches, Ofcom wrote:
Indoor outdoor split. Wi-Fi routers tend to be indoors – carrying broadband traffic within a localised indoor area; whereas mobile transmitters are mostly located outdoors – providing wider area coverage. So, we are exploring the possibility of enabling the indoor use of Wi-Fi while also enabling licensed mobile use outdoors.
Geographical sharing. Most of the data traffic carried across mobile networks tends to be concentrated in a relatively small proportion of sites. It might be possible to enable licensed mobile use in specific high-traffic locations while allowing Wi-Fi use elsewhere. It might also be possible to prioritise Wi-Fi use in specific areas of high demand while allowing mobile use in other areas.
While the regulator says it’s inviting comments, now that it has made this announcement there’s a good chance it’s set on the idea. Aside from identifying mechanisms to achieve its hybrid sharing approach, it said it’s also pushing for international harmonization of hybrid sharing in this band “to enable economies of scale for equipment.”
Radio spectrum is used by all devices with wireless communications whether they be car key fobs, baby monitors, TV, or satellites. Mobile phones and broadband equipment also use the radio spectrum.
As the spectrum is limited, Ofcom argues that it needs to be carefully managed to prevent services from interfering with each other and causing disruption for people and businesses.