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UK launches mobile broadband consultation

20 октября 2009

The U.K. government has launched a consultation in a bid to improve and extend mobile broadband coverage to up to 90% of the country.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced late last week plans to implement recommendations made by the Independent Spectrum Broker (ISB), Kip Meek, on how to make best use of existing and future spectrum allocations.

One of the key measures up for discussion is the government's proposal to work with telecoms regulator Ofcom to free up and auction 800-MHz frequency bands as soon as possible. The airwaves, known as the digital dividend, are due to become available once they are vacated by the U.K.'s terrestrial television broadcasters.

The government plans to hold a combined auction that will also include 2.5 GHz spectrum, which would pave the way for rolling out WiMAX services.

The BIS also recommended liberalising rules on the use of 2G spectrum to allow the country's mobile operators to refarm frequencies in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz band for mobile broadband services.

The proposals were welcomed by Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms.

"This package will free up the airwaves for the expansion of wireless and 3G services, increasing their reach to consumers and businesses across as much as 90% of the country, including rural communities," said Stephen Timms, minister for Digital Britain, in a statement.

"I would also like to thank Kip Meek who has had to weigh up very complex issues in producing a report which marks a clear way forward," he said.

The government also proposed a number of spectrum caps for future auctions aimed at preventing operators from monopolising spectrum holdings in a particular band.

The rules would limit the overall spectrum holding per operator to two 65 MHz blocks, while separate caps would apply to airwaves in particular spectrum bands.

Bidders that go over the threshold would be required to relinquish an equivalent amount of spectrum to the amount acquired in the auction.

The consultation is due to end on 8 January 2010.

The Digital Britain Report earlier in the year unveiled plans to provide every home in the U.K. with access to minimum broadband speeds of no less than 2 Mbps by 2012.

"Digital Britain is the government's vision for creating a world-class digital infrastructure – boosting jobs, growth and competitiveness," said Timms.

"To realise that vision it's vital that we make best use of the digital spectrum and ensure that sufficient bandwidth is available for sophisticated next-generation services, and not just calls and texts," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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