Mobile broadband plan extended

REVISED mobile plans unveiled by Ofcom aim to bring broadband access to more rural 'not-spots'.

The telecom watchdog has increased the proportion of the UK population it wants covered by the next generation super-fast 4G mobile spectrum.

It means the successful bidder in its forthcoming auction to roll-out the 4G network will have to cover 98% of the UK population, rather than 95%.

Doing so, believes Ofcom, will bring faster mobile broadband to areas of the country that are currently poorly served by internet connections.

Successful bidders in the forthcoming propostion to reach at least 98% of the UK population compared to 95% originally planned..

Ofcom Chief Executive, Ed Richards, said: "This is a crucial step in preparing for the most significant spectrum release in the UK for many years.

"The proposals published today will influence the provision of services to consumers for the next decade and beyond.

Mr Richards said the UK benefited from being one of the most competitive mobile phone markets in Europe.

As the next generation of mobile communications beckoned, Ofcom's objective was to promote effective competition and stimulate investment and innovation.

"In addition we are proposing a significant enhancement of mobile broadband, extending 4G coverage beyond levels of existing 2G coverage."

This would help to serve many areas of the UK that have traditionally been underserved by network coverage, said Mr Richards.

Demand for mobile data is forecast to rise by 500% over the next five years.

It is being fuelled by smartphones and mobile broadband services such as video streaming, email, messenger services, online mapping and social networking.

Last October, the government announced plans to invest £150m to boost mobile coverage in those areas with poor or no mobile service.

A lot of the money is likely to be spent on new mobile infrastructure in areas where there is little or no commercial incentive for operators to do so.

Ofcom wants the winner of the 4G auction to extends coverage into mobile 'not spot' areas by piggybacking on this investment.

This may have the potential to extend 4G mobile coverage even further than 98% of the population, it said.

It would also make it more likely that mobile broadband is provided in locations where it is most valued, rather than areas where it is easiest to deliver.


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