Ofcom wants UK 4G to cover 98% of population

By Posted 12 Jan 2012, 12:39

While consumers in the US get excited about the latest 4G handsets being released, across the pond in the UK no such service exists. Now regulator Ofcom has said it wants the UK 4G network to cover 98% of the population as it reveals plans for the upcoming spectrum auction.

The auction is set to be held towards the end of this year as rival companies bid to buy the spectrum that is needed to help with the demand of the increase in use of smartphones and tablets. The Guardian are reporting that Ofcom now want 98% of the country’s population having access to mobile broadband, which is up from 95%.

Auctioning off the 4G spectrum could provide the UK Government with a £3 billion windfall along with millions in annual license fees. Ofcom has revealed new rules regarding the auction that has seen earlier guarantees for two operators removed. Before both Three and Everything Everywhere was to have a certain amount of spectrum in the 800MHz band reserved.

This band is currently being used by analogue TV signals that will become available by the end of the year when they are switched off. With regards of subscribers Everything Everywhere is the largest network following the merger of T-Mobile and Orange, while Three is the smallest.

The two companies have said they should get space reserved on the 800MHz spectrum as both O2 and Vodafone currently have no spectrum below 1000MHz. Lower spectrum bands are cheaper to build as they can send radio waves over greater distances, which means less masts and cheaper networks.

Ofcom may introduce protection for Three at a later date but not Everything Everywhere. It is expected that demand for mobile broadband in parts of Europe including the UK, will increase by 500% in the next five years.

The decision to increase the coverage of mobile broadband by Ofcom for remote rural areas comes in response to requests from MPs. One of the lots of spectrum to be auction off comes with this increase coverage obligation, but whoever wins this could have access to £150 million.

Will you be glad once 4G is available in the UK?