November 29, 2013

Spectrum shortage predicted by 2020

Written By Martin Sandhu

We’re now so reliant on our mobile devices, data and wi-fi connections that’s it’s difficult to understand what we did before them! So the thought of a spectrum shortage is terrifying, both for individuals and businesses.

Real Wireless has warned that unless the UK’s infrastructure is updated it will be unable to cope with demand within the next six years. Basically, it would mean there isn’t enough space for mobile devices and computers to operate efficiently. Not only would this affect connection speeds when browsing the Internet or using mobile apps, but it would have a wider impact on the country’s communication networks.
Despite the new spectrum made available in the 4G auctions, Real Wireless estimates that the UK will need to find 300MHz more mobile and 350MHz more Wi-Fi spectrum by 2020 to avoid the problems. This is due to rapidly increasing demand.

4G is already proving more popular than anticipated, with mobile operator EE reaching its milestones ahead of predicted targets. And a separate report released this week predicts that 4G usage will see a sharp rise over the next few years. According to GSMA, an association of mobile operators, by 2017 more than one billion people will be using the service, provided by over 500 networks across around 130 countries. By the end of 2013, 20% of the world’s population will be able to connect to 4G networks, by 2017, this figure is likely to be nearer to 50%.

Ofcom announced earlier this month that it has identified some space that could potentially be used for 5G mobile broadband. The spectrum is approximately seven times the amount released for 4G, and could boost mobile capacity by more than 25 times by 2030. However, Real Wireless has warned that may not be soon enough, with space likely to get tight 10 years before hand.

For now, this is all but speculation. However as the time draws near businesses will be keen to what is being done to ensure the spectrum isn’t overloaded. As a nation now heavily reliant on mobile, the consequences of not acting could prove far-reaching.