Mobile phone users in rural areas could soon see their 3G reception improve after regulators allowed operators to repurpose their existing spectrum for mobile broadband services.
The ruling by Ofcom that refarming of 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum would not harm competition in the UK mobile market settles a three-year row that has held back the development of faster wireless networks.
Ofcom’s findings pave the way for the auction of portions of the airwaves currently used by analogue television broadcasts, which could improve mobile broadband speeds and raise billions of pounds for the government.
O2 and Vodafone, which own the 900MHz spectrum, and Everything Everywhere, the merged Orange and T-Mobile which owns most of the 1800MHz spectrum, have so far only been allowed to use their allocation for 2G services. Both ranges will allow operators to expand their network capacity for 3G services, alleviating the congestion created by the rapid proliferation of smartphones.