Ofcom has announced its intention to make the 700 Mhz frequency zone, that is currently reserved for digital television and wireless microphones, available for use by mobile telephone companies, as part of a plan to improve national mobile broadband services.
The changes are expected to deliver higher quality and cheaper customer services, an Ofcom spokesperson said, “millions of consumers could benefit from lower mobile tariffs than would otherwise be offered, because we expect a significant proportion of the network cost savings to be passed through to them“.
The regulator explained that the move would not require any form of “digital switchover”. Current users of the 700 Mhz frequency would be unaffected, with services safeguarded against disruption, but businesses and individuals who use mobile data services are expected to notice an improved delivery of broadband.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said, “This is a crucial next step in the development of the UK’s communications infrastructure… more spectrum will be available for mobile broadband where demand is especially high, but the UK will retain a competitive terrestrial television platform as well.”
Ofcom stated that it is planning for the changes to take place in early 2022, although it has also suggested that it could possibly be rolled out in 2020.
“It’s significant for people in remote and rural areas because, despite the best efforts of government to get operators to deliver fixed broadband into those areas, the fact is there are still some places that are not going to be reached by 2022, and this will help,” said Mark Newman, chief research officer of Ovum’s telecoms research business.
In a statement, Ofcom predicted that data demand will be up to 45 times higher than it is currently by 2030 and as such has determined that it is necessary for areas of the wireless frequency spectrum to be available for mobile data services.
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