Ofcom Clears 800MHz Spectrum For UK 4G services

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Ofcom says project to clear the 800MHz of TV services wll be completed on Wednesday

Ofcom says the four-year programme to clear TV broadcasts from the 800MHz band will be completed on Wednesday, paving the way for 4G services to operate on these frequencies.

Upgrades of 600 TV transmitters across the UK have been completed five months ahead of schedule, as part of the accelerated timetable Ofcom agreed with broadcasters and infrastructure operators last year.

Once viewers in Northern Scotland retune their Freeview equipment on Wednesday, the process will be completed.

UK 4G services

TV, Video © Ensuper Shutterstock 2012“This week we are clearing the path for 4G mobile broadband, allowing mobile companies to provide coverage across the UK,” said Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive. “4G services will reach 98 percent of the UK population indoors – and even more when outdoors – which will provide a significant boost for rural businesses and consumers.”

EE, O2, Three and Vodafone all won 800MHz licenses in the Ofcom 4G spectrum auction earlier this year, however none has launched LTE services using the airwaves. EE 4G has used the 1800MHz band since it was launched last year, while O2 and Vodafone will not launch competing services until later this Summer.

There have been fears that 4G services operating at 800MHz could affect Freeview TV signals, but tests carried out by at800 suggest that fewer than 90,000 households are likely to be affected and that a filter can usually restore reception.

Last week, the European Commission criticised national governments for not doing enough to accelerate the rollout of 4G services in the UK, claiming three quarters of Europeans have no access to LTE, while rural coverage is all but absent.

The UK is one of just 11 European nations to have obeyed an agreement to release the 800MHz bandwidth to operators, with half of the EU’s member states requesting extensions to the deadline.

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