UK TELECOMS REGULATOR Ofcom has announced plans to extend 4G coverage in the UK to at least 98 per cent of the population.
The move follows a consultation taken by Ofcom last year, when the regulator outlined its plans for how mobile spectrum should be auctioned off to promote competition.
Following responses from the mobile operators and telecoms companies such as BT, Ofcom has launched a second consultation to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on these proposals before it makes its final decisions for the upcoming spectrum auction this year.
In October, the government announced plans to invest £150m to boost mobile coverage in those areas with poor or no mobile service. In the 2011 consultation, Ofcom had said that a special condition should be attached to one of the 800MHz spectrum licences, which would oblige the holder to roll out a 4G network to 95 per cent of the UK population.
The regulator now believes that coverage could extend to 98 per cent, either through raising the obligation or asking that one 800MHz operator provide 4G coverage that extends into mobile 'not spot' areas of the UK, where the £150m will provide infrastructure capable of supporting 4G coverage.
Ofcom thinks the second option might have the potential to extend 4G mobile coverage even further than 98 per cent of the UK population.
A final decision on the auction plans will be made this Summer. The auction itself will follow a few months later, starting in the fourth quarter. µ