Ofcom to boost mobile data using digital TV airwaves

Ofcom has revealed plans to free up terrestrial television airwaves to make mobile data services both faster and cheaper for mobile customers.

The regulatory body's decision means operators will be able to offer faster broadband using frequencies taken from digital terrestrial television services and some wireless microphones, which will both improve the service for mobile customers and assure the future of Freeview and other television services.

Ofcom is aiming to have this in place by at least 2022, with the demand for mobile data set to be 45 times higher by 2030. This means that mobile operators will need access to additional spectrum, which Ofcom is responsible for managing.

Spectrum from wireless microphones and digital terrestrial television services is in the 700 MHz band. Redistributing this will make mobile data faster and cheaper for UK customers.

Ed Richards, Ofcom CEO, said: "This is a crucial step in the development of the UK's communications infrastructure. This decision ensures that we are making the raw materials available with which investors and companies can build the services which will support the digital economy of the future.

"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."

Detailing the benefits of the move in a report, Ofcom said that it expects to pass down a "significant proportion" of network cost savings to customers and the move would improve mobile performance in "hard to serve locations" specifically.

Caroline Preece

Caroline has been writing about technology for more than a decade, switching between consumer smart home news and reviews and in-depth B2B industry coverage. In addition to her work for IT Pro and Cloud Pro, she has contributed to a number of titles including Expert Reviews, TechRadar, The Week and many more. She is currently the smart home editor across Future Publishing's homes titles.

You can get in touch with Caroline via email at caroline.preece@futurenet.com.