Ofcom ups 3G power limit


Ofcom has decided to up the maximum in-band power limit for 3G licences, held by the five major mobile operators in the UK.

The ruling came after a number of requests by operators initially by Vodafone but backed by O2, T-Mobile, Orange and 3 who claimed a small power increase could help them improve coverage without the need for extra sites, in turn lowering the environmental impact of base stations.

The companies also pointed out there were no such limits on power in other European countries such as Germany, France and Sweden.

Ofcom agreed and, as a result, the limit has now been increased from 62 dBm (decibel power to one milliwatt) equivalent isotropically radiated power (e.i.r.p or the amount of power an antenna emits) to 65 dBm e.i.r.p.

"We consider that this has the potential to provide benefits for customers through improved voice capacity, data throughput and in-building signal availability by making more effective use of currently available base station technology," said Ofcom.

"We believe that in practice this will have no adverse effect on the operation of services in adjacent spectrum bands."

Ofcom did offer an even higher limit of 68 dBm e.i.r.p to each provider to help with further base station developments but this was not supported by all the firms and the compromise of 65 dBm e.i.r.p was agreed.

Many individual responses to the consultation raised concerns around health and safety issues of increasing radiation from antennas. However, after consulting with the Health Protection Agency, Ofcom was told the rise would still keep base stations well within previously agreed guidelines.

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.