LTE (Long Term Evolution), the next generation of mobile technology, could be available in the UK sooner than we thought following a decision by the European Commission to open up existing airwaves used for 2G and 3G devices, making them available for use by LTE devices. The EC decision states that the 900 and 1800 MHz spectrum must allow use of these frequencies for LTE devices by the end of 2011. This comes as part of their harmonisation plans to allow EU wide roaming for these kinds of devices.
"This Decision opens the way for the latest 4G mobile devices to gain access to the radio spectrum they need to operate, and so further stimulate high-speed broadband services and foster more competition."Neelie Kroes
This will potentially make LTE services available in the UK from the end of the year if Ofcom stick to the EC decision, and adjust national spectrum policy to allow the use of these frequencies by LTE. This date is unlikely to be met though. Ofcom previously opened up the 900MHz 2G frequencies for 3G use in January this year, 15 months after the EC decision to allow this, which required Ofcom to implement the decision within 6 months.
Currently, Ofcom are working to allow LTE from the beginning of 2013, but with restricted use as the 800MHz spectrum will still be used by digital terrestrial TV at that point. LTE spectrum auctions are expected to go ahead in early 2012.