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Arqiva snaps up new spectrum licences for 5G wireless trials

Comms infrastructure supplier buys two 112MHz bands of wireless spectrum to support its 5G wholesale ambitions

Communications and wireless access infrastructure supplier Arqiva has bought a Region A licence for two 112MHz tranches of 28GHz spectrum from managed services provider Luminet to support its future ambitions around 5G mobile networking.

With most authorities now in agreement that 5G networks will draw heavily on fixed wireless access (FWA) technologies, the 28GHz band is already being used as standard for FWA trials in Japan, South Korea and the US.

The two bands, which cover Central and Greater London, will be brought into use to assist the UK’s first trial of 5G FWA. With support from Samsung, the London testbed will be up and running this month, and will explore the possibilities of ultrafast, high-bandwidth connectivity using wireless, as opposed to wired, technology.

5G connectivity is a highly debated topic, especially with regard to what it will deliver and by when,” said Arqiva’s MD of telecoms and M2M, Nicolas Ott. “However, the FWA component is set for a head start thanks to the drive from major global fixed-line and mobile operators as both a substitute and a companion to traditional fibre services. 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) certification is critical to achieving global acceptance.”

The 3GPP is expected to reach the next milestone in the development of 5G – Release 15 – in March 2018, which will pave the way for FWA to be the first commercial release of 5G technology, and suppliers and operators alike a chance to begin to deploy at scale.

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“5G FWA is an exciting opportunity to deliver true ultrafast broadband above 500Mbps to millions of households,” said Ott. “This is especially relevant in the UK, where so few households are connected by fibre to the home [FTTH] or fibre to the cabinet [FTTC]. FWA has the ability to become a truly alternative technology to deliver fibre-like services.

“In purchasing this additional licence, we are able to further our ambitions in this area, standing ourselves in good stead to deliver a compelling 5G FWA wholesale service to UK mobile and fixed operators across the country, and with even more capacity in Greater London.”

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