TECH

Ofcom: '5G Is Coming, But We Don't Know What It Is. Do You?'

20/01/2015 11:18 GMT | Updated 20/01/2015 11:59 GMT

Statistically you probably don't have a 4G mobile phone, contract and/or coverage yet. But even if you do, you're probably falling behind.

UK communications regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation for "industry input" on… 5G.

What is 5G? Well, to paraphrase Spinal Tap, it's one faster than 4G.

You want more detail? Sorry, you can't. No one knows what 4G is - even the people setting the standard.

That's why ahead of an event on 12 March to discuss "the impact of new mobile and wireless broadband technologies, including those underpinning 5G", Ofcom wants phone providers and others to submit their thoughts on the new standard… whatever it turns out to be.

The 'Call For Input' specifically asks for thoughts on using bands above 6Ghz, higher frequencies that if sold off by Ofcom at auction could again generate revenue for the government -- to the chagrin of many industry figures.

It is still unclear how these higher frequencies will be used, or what it might mean for mobile data bandwidth.

Ofcom admits as much in its call for input:

"The exact nature of 5G is not yet defined, but to lay the foundations for its future introduction we need to understand how it might use spectrum. 5G is likely to provide much faster mobile broadband speeds than the current generation of mobile technology (4G), and the use of large blocks of spectrum is likely to be important to achieve the fastest speeds. Ofcom has already identified possible bands below 6 GHz for future mobile services, including 5G, as part our Mobile Data Strategy, but large blocks of spectrum are difficult to find at lower frequencies.

"Therefore higher frequency bands, e.g. above 6 GHz, are also likely to be important. However, those bands are already used by a wide range of services that benefit citizens and consumers."

TL:DR? Your mobile phone is going to get faster, and probably more expensive, every few years, forever. Get used it it, dummy.