Ofcom Shared Access Licence 5G Testbed Report

This report is the output from the Ofcom Shared Access Licence: 5G Testbed and Trials Implementation and Learnings collaboration group.

Executive Summary

This report is the output from the Ofcom Shared Access Licence: 5G Testbed and Trials Implementation and Learnings collaboration group.

The collaboration group consists of representatives from a number of projects across the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) 5G Testbed and Trials Programme and provides a collaborative view of their use of Shared Access Licence spectrum, their experience of the licence application process, lessons learned and recommendations.

Each project has successfully deployed networks and use cases utilising the associated spectrum bands. The objective of this report is to share the above work, as an output from the DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials, to support and enhance future Shared Access Licence use across the UK’s 5G ecosystem.

It is clear from the feedback from the collaboration group that the Shared Access Licence model is a welcome offering for industry and other stakeholders to run private 5G networks.

This model of licensing now provides the spectrum options to deploy simple, cost effective private 5G networks, enabling bespoke network deployments that support specific use case requirements. This is the overriding benefit.

This report also summarises the constraints and issues that the 5G Testbeds and Trials projects experienced when working with the Shared Access Licence model. These centred around the application process and acquisition of spectrum licences that supported their specific network deployments and use case requirements.

Based upon the experiences of the projects, recommendations have been put forward with the aim of supporting the enhanced use of Shared Access Licencing across the UK. Key recommendations are:

  • Automation of the application process and spectrum management in the field.
  • A transparent application process, with more effective communication between Ofcom and the licence applicant, to make the overall application process more time and resource efficient.
  • Going further than having generalised deployment models by supporting the tailoring of power, antenna height and direction for these bespoke private small network deployments.
  • Expanding power limits where appropriate- in particular in remote rural areas or where the topology naturally restricts the risk of interference.
  • Extending the opportunities for building the spectrum deployment to meet the private 5G use cases through the introduction of low and wider bandwidth medium-band spectrum bands to the Shared Access Licence model.

The content of this report has been presented and discussed with the relevant Ofcom spectrum licensing teams. Ofcom has shown appreciation for the feedback and is actively working to improve and build on existing processes to the benefit of current and future UK spectrum users.