Ofcom: 2G can be used for 3G connectivity


UK mobile providers will now be able to use their 2G spectrum allowance for 3G connectivity, following a ruling from Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator released a statement today saying, after consultation with the Government and industry, it had decided to give the go ahead for varying the usage policy for 900MHz and 1800MHz a move it initially proposed back in October.

The aim is to improve 3G connectivity for the growing number of users taking advantage of mobile internet on portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

Ofcom said: "Ofcom's decision to open up more frequencies for 3G services is likely to bring significant benefits to consumers."

"Previously mobile phone operators could only use a limited amount of spectrum to deliver 3G services. Today's move means that this spectrum could in future be used to meet the growing demand from smartphone devices and the like for 3G services."

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at analyst firm Quocirca, welcomed the move as a way to relieve some of the issues the UK's overcrowded spectrum has, but didn't go as far to say it would solve the problem.

"Ultimately there is a squeeze on spectrum (no more dark fibre in the sky) and an apparently insatiable appetite for capacity and coverage," he told IT PRO.

"The 2G spectrum for 3G might help a little with both and especially at the lower frequency in harder to reach locations such as rural and in-building."

Reports showed operators had widely praised the move though, with O2 telling IT PRO: "We welcome the conclusion of Ofcom's licensing procedure and can now begin the process for deploying UMTS900."

We asked for comment from Vodafone and Everything Everywhere, but neither had responded to our request at the time of publication.

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.