Ofcom looks at Terahertz spectrum for terabit 6G future

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Ofcom is asking for views on how to maximise the long-term value of the Terahertz (THz) spectrum, extremely high frequencies that could provide huge bandwidth for applications of the future and enable 6G networks.

The Terahertz band sits at the very top of the spectrum range between 100GHz and 3THz and is currently only used for limited scientific applications, such as weather forecasting.

However, the significant capacity of the spectrum, coupled with advances in technology, mean it could be harnessed for mobile networks in the future, enabling terabit speeds. Terahertz spectrum will also be attractive for 6G networks.

Terahertz spectrum 

Ofcom believes Terahertz will enable terabit-speed networks will provide a boost to applications like robotics, autonomous vehicles, holograms, and general mobile broadband services. It adds it is starting its work now to ensure the benefits of the frequencies can be realised as soon as the market demands.

“To help realise the full benefits of Terahertz, we intend to ensure our approach to managing spectrum is as flexible and efficient as possible – both to enable existing services to grow as well as supporting innovative new ones,” it said, asking for individuals and organisations to share their views.

“The unique properties and capabilities of new technologies mean the rules and approaches to spectrum authorisation that apply at lower frequencies need not dictate the way we approach the authorisation and use of Terahertz spectrum. Greater collaboration and cooperation between the different types of emerging spectrum users in these bands will be essential in underpinning an alternative approach.”

The development of 6G is still at a very early stage and it is still unclear what network technologies will form a commercial standard and what use cases will emerge. There is a consensus, however, that the addition of integrated intelligence and new spectrum will deliver superior speeds, capacity and latency.

These characteristics, it is argued, will overcome current technological limitations - such as the limited processing capability of mobile devices – to enable truly immersive extended reality (XR), high-fidelity mobile hologram and digital twin applications.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.