Next-generation 4G wireless broadband services will have to reach 98 per cent of the UK population to eliminate broadband ‘not spots’..
Media regulator Ofcom has told mobile internet providers that at least one of them will have to reach broadband ‘not spots’ where there’s currently no high speed access except by satellite.
It will make 4G coverage for voice and data – at 2Mbps or better – the same as the combined 2G voice coverage currently achieved by all four national mobile phone networks combined.
Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: “The UK benefits from being one of the most competitive mobile phone markets in Europe. This means that consumers pay less for mobile communications services and have the choice to shop around for packages that suit them best.
“As the UK enters a new generation of mobile communications, Ofcom’s objective is to promote effective competition and to stimulate both investment and innovation.
“In addition we are proposing a significant enhancement of mobile broadband, extending 4G coverage beyond levels of existing 2G coverage – helping to serve many areas of the UK that have traditionally been underserved by network coverage.”
Later this year, the government will auction off old analogue TV frequencies to be used for 4G mobile.
Unlike the frequencies used for 2G and 3G mobile, these can send radio waves over longer distances and are better at getting into buildings.
Ofcom also said it will ensure the auction is controlled so there are at least four providers competing with each other.
The government has promised to spend £150million helping internet providers reach rural areas with little or no broadband access.