Broadband News

Ofcom proposals may result in wider 4G coverage

The overdue 4G spectrum auctions are creeping up on us, and Ofcom has launched its latest set of proposals for the spectrum auction, with a ten week consultation period running between March and May 2012. The new proposals are that a special condition be attached to the 4G licences requiring them to provision a 4G service to some 98% of the UK population.

4G coverage was planned to have a target of 95% originally, so an increase to 98% indoor coverage of the UK population is a welcome proposal. A second proposal revolves around the £150m announced by the Government to improve mobile coverage in the UK, with Ofcom proposing that one 800MHz (which has better penetration inside buildings) licensee will deliver coverage matching that of the 2G networks, and using the extra funding expand coverage beyond the 98% level.

Ofcom is also looking at retaining a small part of the 2.6GHz spectrum for use in innovative new mobile services particularly short-range services, e.g. networks for campuses, hospitals and large commercial premises.

The final design of the auction is expected in the summer of 2012, with the auction commencing in Q4.

The delayed 4G roll-out is one major reason why mobile providers are so keen to diversify into Wi-Fi networks, particularly in a year when millions of high mobile visitors are due in the UK for the Olympics.

How the 98% of population coverage is measured is crucial, since even today it is not uncommon to travel on trains and motorways where 2G voice services are marginal or non-existent. The problem being these don't count towards to the statistics, as no-one lives on those transport links.


We will never have a truly digital britain when 'population area' is the benchmark for ofcom stats. To be truly digital we need ubiquitous coverage. That is what ofcom should concentrate on, not on protecting the interests of the incumbents. Time to light some fibre, get it everywhere and break up the cabals. Once there is affordable fibre available in rural areas the mobile companies have a business case for more masts. Openreach is holding us to ransom.

  • cyberdoyle
  • over 9 years ago

Cough heard of fixed wireless access, and microwave links between base stations?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 9 years ago

cd - do the mobile companies say provision of links is a problem? How about farmers giving free site rental?

Site costs include masts, base station kit and power. Why do you think it's only connectivity that is stopping them?

  • Somerset
  • over 9 years ago

cd- Fibre everywhere is not going to happen any time soon, my part of rural Wales for many mobile broadband is already the answer, simply a better service than any fixed line can deliver. Also who are Openreach!

  • NilSatisOptimum
  • over 9 years ago


that's a bit unfair... i don't know any UK telecoms with the £20billion available to do a FTTP ~100%.

To say that Openreach are holding you to ransom, would mean they have the funds but aren't doing anything...

The exact same could be said of all ISPs, why hasn't tiny ISP built a UK wide network? Answer is money... why hasn't BT built a UK wide FTTP network... money.

  • themanstan
  • over 9 years ago

All well and good ofcom saying 98% but mobile network operators have failed to meet the coverage they are meant to meet for 3G. I expect the same will be the case for 4G and ~10 years from now there will still not be 98% 4G coverage.

  • timmay
  • over 9 years ago

Andrew, just a clarification, when you said "proposing that one 800MHz ... licensee will deliver coverage matching that of the 2G networks", do you mean there will be only one 800MHz licensee, or only one of the 800MHz licensees will have this condition? The BBC article on this is also not entirely clear given a slice of 800MHz not reserved for all networks now... thanks!

  • mikeysoft
  • over 9 years ago

I will be happy when my phone works when im indoors and not sitting on the window sill

  • omnius
  • over 9 years ago

@omnius - yeah. Luckily I've got a 13Mb/s ADSL connection (15Mb/s in the summer). Okay so Brackley is a rural town but it's hardly the back end of beyond. Still - I don't know anyone with reliable mobile coverage inside. I have to go up to the front room or into the minuscule entrance hall to get anything.

  • AndrueC
  • over 9 years ago

The sense of entitlement here...

Mobile operators owe you nothing, if you decide to live in the woods in the middle of nowhere that's your fault.

Maybe ditch some of tax they'll do it.

  • otester
  • over 9 years ago

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