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5G to replace digital TV in Ofcom plans as data doubles

4G has barely arrived in the UK, and plans are already underway for 5G as Ofcom reveals we use twice as much data as last year.

4G has barely arrived in the UK, and plans are already underway for 5G. Authorities are looking ahead to the next, next generation of super-fast Internet for phones and tablets -- as it's revealed we used twice as much data as last year.

Telecoms watchdog Ofcom is already looking to 5G. That may seem like looking far ahead, but Ofcom figures say we used 20 million gigabytes of data in June 2012 -- more than twice the 9 million gigabytes we used in June 2011. By 2030, Ofcom reckons demand for mobile data could be 80 times higher than today.

Ofcom says it's making plans to release spectrum from the 700MHz frequency band, which is currently used for digital terrestrial television. That's unwelcome news for TV broadcasters, but Ofcom reckons it can free the spectrum without another big telly 'switchover' like the digital switchover that finally ended this year.

Ofcom wants to ensure the same frequencies of spectrum are used for mobile broadband here in the UK as abroad. That should end the need to make different phones with different antennas in different countries. The US, for example, has different 4G phones to us.

Keeping 5G in neat order is a good idea. 4G is already fragmented before it even gets off the ground: the first UK 4G network, EE, uses the 1,800MHz band, while other networks will use the 800 and 2,600MHz bands. The Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE supports all the bands but most phones, such as the iPhone 5, won't be able to switch from one network to another.

4G launched in Britain last month with EE, the LTE network formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile. Other networks will join the 4G fun next year, when Ofcom auctions off the remaining spectrum.

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