Friday, February 6, 2009

Ofcom review UK mobile broadband spectrum

bbc.co.uk reports that UK regulator Ofcom looks set to change the way it sells off the airwaves freed up by the shift to digital TV.

It is planning to make a wider band of spectrum available for mobile broadband services than originally proposed. A move that has been welcomed by mobile operators who say it will make for cheaper and more flexible services.

Originally Ofcom promised to safeguard spectrum in the 800Mhz band for wireless microphones and digital terrestrial TV services, but now it proposes to make the whole 800MHz band available for mobile broadband and related services and find "alternative spectrum" for wireless microphones and digital terrestrial TV.

For digital terrestrial TV viewers, it will mean that set-top boxes will have to be retuned, something Ofcom described as "a simple procedure that usually takes a few minutes to complete".

"Ofcom has realised that there is momentum in Europe for mobile broadband so has had to co-operate," said Matthew Howett, an analyst with research firm Ovum.

Finland, France, Sweden, and Switzerland have already decided to release the wider block of spectrum for mobile broadband services and if the UK follows suit it will mean lower equipment prices for consumers.

T-Mobile's head of regulatory affairs, Robyn Durie, welcomed the move. "It is good news for us. Mobile broadband needs a big chunk of spectrum and previously we didn't have that," she said. "It means that consumers will be able to use the same services abroad that they can use at home."

Read the full article here.

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