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Report: UK faces Wi-Fi and mobile ‘spectrum crunch’ by 2020

The demand for data in the UK is growing at such a rate that by 2020 mobile and Wi-Fi spectrums will be overloaded, according to a new report.

Leading wireless consulting firm Real Wireless warned that unless this issue is confronted, the country's communication networks will be unable to cope with the data demand.

In order to avoid a "spectrum crunch", the report claims that around 300 MHz more cellular and 350 MHz more Wi-Fi spectrum needs to be made available.

"Although new spectrum provided in the 4G auction has given some breathing space in meeting new demand growth," said Professor Simon Saunders, Technology Director and co-founder of Real Wireless, "We will face a renewed spectrum crunch in around 2020 without further action.

"The challenge faced by governments and regulators is how best to manage this demand and ensure that consumers and other wireless users continue to see an improvement in their service, while ensuring other critical services still have access to the spectrum they need."

Last month, Ofcom announced that mobile networks would be charged up to five times more for certain spectrums. Such costs would most likely to be passed on to the consumer but it is unlikely to have much of an effect on the demand for data.

"The Direction requires Ofcom, after completion of the 4G Auction, to revise the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz licence fees so that they reflect the full market value of the frequencies in those bands," the report explained. "(The Direction) also requires that in revising them we must have particular regard to the sums bid for licences in the 4G Auction."