Ofcom cited the potential for improved 5G speeds and capacity in busy areas including train stations and football grounds from the use of mmWave spectrum, as it opened a consultation into a proposal to auction licences in cities.

The regulator noted use of the 26GHz and 40GHz bands for 5G and other new mobile technology would be beneficial in locations currently experiencing sluggish speeds due to high network demand, alongside supporting new services.

Potential future applications highlighted include VR, factory automation and driverless cars.

Although prevalent in some parts of the world, the use of the frequencies in Europe has been slower to gain traction, with big name players trying to push forward the argument for its use in recent months.

Ofcom noted it planned to offer licences through an auction and assign “more localised” ones on a “first come, first served basis” using a shared access framework.

Prior to deployment for mobile use, the regulator needs to clear the spectrum by revoking existing permissions, including for fixed wireless links in the 26GHz band.

Its proposal for how it allocates the spectrum and associated conditions is the subject of a consultation closing on 22 May.

Ofcom already held one consultation into the issue, which closed in July 2022. At the time, it earmarked 2024 as a potential timeframe for making the spectrum available.