Telecoms regulator Ofcom yesterday gave the go-ahead for mobile providers to use their 2G radio spectrum for third-generation mobile broadband services.
Moves unveiled by Ofcom should make it easier for consumers to browse the internet on the move. The regulator said that the change would allow operators to "increase mobile broadband speeds, deliver improved in-building coverage and widen mobile broadband coverage in rural areas."
As of yesterday, the airwaves used for making mobile phone calls and sending text messages became available for 3G services such as mobile internet, "to meet the growing demand from smartphone devices and the like".
Mobile broadband providers welcomed the move, which Ofcom said offered a number of benefits for consumers.
- Greater network capacity allowing more customers to get online and at faster mobile broadband speeds
- Improved quality, allowing customers to use mobile broadband in more locations with greater reliability
- Improved coverage indoors
- Wider coverage in rural areas.
Previously, firms could only use a portion of their spectrums for 3G services, such as browsing the internet and watching videos online.
But the new European rules that required the UK to free-up the remaining 2G spectrum will help ease some of the current pressure on networks caused by the rise of smartphones and mobile internet devices.
The government is also set to sell off the 2.6GHz and 800Mhz frequencies in its Digital Dividend auction, set to take place by 2012, to allow much faster next generation mobile broadband services.