The way is now clear for 'spectrum refarming'

Mobile Broadband

2G spectrum should be reused to allow 3G to access remote areas, according to an analyst's report.

Catherine Viola, senior analyst for Analysys Mason, said now is the time for "spectrum refarming."

Viola said in her report: "The regulatory bottleneck at EU level had deterred many national regulatory authorities (NRAs) from acting on spectrum refarming and therefore delayed operators in those countries from reaping the coverage and cost-saving benefits of deploying a UMTS network in this lower-frequency spectrum. The way is now cleared for NRAs throughout the region to introduce refarming measures, and for operators to realise the benefits that UMTS900 offers."

She said in her report that lower frequencies allow for fewer sites than on 2100Mhz, which in turn offers massive savings.

Viola said: "This translates into indicative cost savings of around 5070 per cent for both network build and OPEX, and faster network roll-out. These benefits enable operators to roll out 3G services, such as mobile broadband, to suburban/rural areas that would be uneconomical to cover using UMTS2100, or, for GSM-only operators, to reduce the costs of building a new 3G network."

She listed other benefits, such as improvements for coverage when indoors and improved voice quality comparative to GSM coverage.

Earlier this week, Kip Meek threatened to exclude Vodafone and O2 the owners of the 900Mhz spectrum at present from those airwaves if they did not agree on sharing terms.

With the ongoing discussions not just for Digital Britain but in the EU as well, along with the increasing use of mobile broadband in this country, Viola's conclusion is fitting.

She said: "There continue to be complex issues regarding the liberalisation of the 900MHz band, and these will take time to resolve."

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.