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Ofcom ruling paves the way for gigabit wireless broadband

Ofcom has ruled that ISPs Cable & Wireless and Urban Wimax can use the 28GHz band of spectrum, capable of supporting gigabit broadband speeds, indefinitely.

Licences for the 28GHz band currently held by both ISPs were due to expire at the end of 2015, but the regulator has now given them both free use seemingly forever, although there is a catch. 

Ofcom wants to charge Administered Incentive Pricing which in a nutshell is designed to ensure that ISPs and broadcasters make the best use of their allocated spectrum.

If a company uses its spectrum inefficiently, Ofcom will ask for a larger sum than it would from someone making the most efficient use of the airwaves. For example, the RNLI which has been given a slice of the airwaves for use in rescue operations, pays roughly £20,000 a year.

Administered Incentive Pricing will also be based on the geographic regions where Cable & Wireless and Urban Wimax operate. So the fees charged to each ISPs will correlate directly depending on how much wireless broadband on 28GHz is pushed.

Both Cable & Wireless and Urban Wimax offer business broadband solutions, meaning it’s unlikely that the consumer broadband market will ever benefit from this ruling for the time being. 

Samsung’s trials with 28GHz have shown that 1Gbps wireless broadband can be delivered at distances of over two kilometres. This could transform rural broadband in places like Norwich where there’s plenty of flat land and great line of sight, something which wireless broadband typically depends on. 

Ofcom has yet to set prices but aims to have this sorted by January 2016. 

Image credit: Flickr user steve p2008


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