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Ofcom marks start of 4G era as digital switchover is complete

800MHz auction starting later this year
Tue Oct 23 2012, 23:55
Mobile spectrum antenna

UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom announced today that the UK's digital switchover is complete, a milestone that frees up capacity for 4G services.

In simple terms, this means that the UK's 800MHz wireless spectrum has been cleared and is now ready to be used by mobile operators for 4G services. Previously, that part of the radio spectrum was used for analogue TV signals for 70 years.

Ofcom isn't one to celebrate, and was instead keen to point out that clearing the airwaves means that mobile networks that use the spectrum must ensure that services are rolled out to 98 percent of the population.

Ofcom chief Ed Richards said, "The UK's switchover to digital has been a huge success. Not only has it created more TV choice for consumers, it has also freed up vital capacity that will be used to deliver mobile broadband services to 98 percent of cities, towns and villages across the UK.

"Now that switchover is complete, Ofcom is looking forward to delivering the 4G auction as the next step in delivering new higher speed mobile broadband services."

Ofcom also reaffirmed that it will start auctioning off the 800MHz spectrum towards the end of this year, which means that mobile networks including primarily O2, Three and Vodafone should be able to launch 4G services at some point next year.

This announcement comes just one day after EE lifted the lid on its 4G price plans, which start at £36 for 500MB of data and climb to £56 for 8GB. These monthly tariffs haven't been well received by those hoping to switch to the LTE network, with potential customers blasting the prices as out of reach.

Perhaps EE's rival networks will do better. µ


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