OFCOM has made a number of proposals to make the 4G spectrum available in the UK as the bandwidth frees up in he 800MHz spectrum with the move to digital television – including extending 4G coverage to cover 98% of the UK and dealing with “not spots”.
Following a consultations between March and May 2011, the telecoms regulator is now proposing to extend UK 4G coverage from 95% to 98% by ensuring that the 4G coverage will not only match existing 2G coverage, but extend that into mobile “not spot” areas of the UK as well. In October, the Government announced plans to invest £150m to boost mobile coverage in those areas with poor or no mobile service – and a significant portion of this money will likely be used to build mobile infrastructure to extend coverage for mobile voice and broadband in areas where there is little commercial incentive to do so.
The report notes the importance of strong competition in the mobile space and the need for the “right mix” of spectrum for each provider to offer their services, but more interesting is their proposal to reserve some spectrum in the 2.6GHz for “innovative” services. They raise the prospect of small scale mobile networks on university campuses, in hospitals, or in commercial offices that operate on short-range frequencies in small areas – but the availability of such spectrum could provide some game changing small scale services from start-ups and is something we whole-heartedly support.