UK operators could potentially run 4G services on the 2100MHz spectrum band, after the European Commission announced plans to allow the refarming of the spectrum.
All four of the UK's operators currently run a 3G service on the bandwidth. However, in response to growing demand and what it described as the economic benefits of 4G technology, the European Commission said it was adding another 120MHz to the 4G spectrum. It will do this by ensuring European Union member states open up the spectrum by 30 June 2014. This does not necessarily mean EE, O2, Vodafone and Three will have to move its existing customers off the 2100MHz bandwidth, rather each operator will have the potential to refarm that spectrum for 4G services if it wishes.
If the plans ago ahead, the European Union will have up to twice as much 4G spectrum as the United States. European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes said: 'This extra spectrum for 4G in Europe means we can better meet the changing and growing demand for broadband. I want to see member states acting swiftly to change existing licences. We all win from faster wireless connections in Europe.'
Before any changes are made to the UK market, an Ofcom spokesman said it must hold a consultation, although no timetable was given. He said: 'The European Commission’s decision is consistent with Ofcom’s long standing objective to reduce regulation and increase more flexible use of spectrum wherever appropriate.'
Editor: Graeme Neill