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Ofcom Clears UK 800MHz Airwaves for Launch of 4G Mobile Broadband

Monday, Jul 29th, 2013 (1:43 pm) - Score 1,202

Ofcom has confirmed that the 800MHz radio spectrum band will this week be made completely clear of the old Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV) services that use to inhabit it. The move means that major mobile operators from around the United Kingdom can now launch their 4G (LTE) services in the same band.

Readers might recall that the telecoms regulator auctioned off both the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands for a total of £2.368 billion to BT, Three UK, EE, Vodafone and O2 earlier this year (here). But the 800MHz band is considered to be the most lucrative thanks to its wider coverage and an ability to penetrate further through walls (i.e. costs less to cover a bigger area).

Ed Richards, Ofcoms Chief Executive, said:

This week we are clearing the path for 4G mobile broadband, allowing mobile companies to provide coverage across the UK. 4G services will reach 98% of the UK population indoors – and even more when outdoors – which will provide a significant boost for rural businesses and consumers.”

The final TV retune will be completed on Wednesday (31st July 2013) by Freeview viewers in northern Scotland. But Three UK aren’t expected to launch their first 4G service until later this year and Vodafone are currently targeting a late summer/early autumn date, which is similar to O2’s plan.

It’s widely expected, largely thanks to EE’s existing rollout of 4G in the 1800MHz band, that the government’s 98% commitment should be reached by the end of 2015 instead of 2017. O2 also envisages a similar date for the complete rollout of their 800MHz solution.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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