5G indoor coverage to get a boost in the UK

5G services have barely launched in the UK, but telecoms watchdog Ofcom is already looking at how indoor coverage of next-gen mobile services can be boosted.

And that’s just as well, because as impressive as indoor 5G speeds on EE’s network currently are, they’re nowhere near as good as outdoor speeds.

Owing to interference caused by walls, glass and metal girders, the performance of cellular services inside are not as likely to be as good as they are outside – but we’ll take whatever we can get.

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The regulator has announced plans to set aside a 2.25GHz chunk of the airwaves from 24.25 GHz to 26.5 GHz – aka ‘the 26 GHz band’.

Other radio frequencies in this region are already currently used by fixed-wireless services and satellite earth stations, but Ofcom will ensure that access will be shared, so there should be no instances of interference.

Exactly how it’ll do this remains to be seen – the regulator says it will detail plans in its ‘Enabling Opportunities for Innovation’ statement, which is due to be released this summer.

The 26GHz band, along with the 700MHz, 2.3GHz, 3.4GHz, and 3.6-3.8GHz bands, are the parts of the Earth’s radio spectrum that Ofcom has divvied up for 5G.

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The first auction saw O2 spend £205m for all the available bits of the 2.3GHz band, while Vodafone, O2, EE, and Three all ponied up £378m, £317m, £302m, and £151, for 50MHz, 40MHz, 40MHz, and 20MHz of the 3.4GHz band, respectively.

So far, EE remains the only network to have actually launched 5G services, but Vodafone plans to launch its 5G services this July. EE’s service is currently live in London, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff. O2 and Three have committed to launching 5G services in 2019, but so far, have not been any clearer about when.

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