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Ofcom touts 700MHz spectrum for mobile broadband

Says demand could increase by 300 times by 2030

Ofcom has started a consultation over the future use of the 700MHz spectrum, suggesting it should be used for mobile broadband to cope with increased demand.

The 700MHz spectrum has been made available due to the switchover from analogue to digital TV. It is the most attractive option for lower frequency mobile broadband, according to Ofcom, since it has global backing. The 700MHz spectrum is already being used in the US for 4G LTE purposes with other countries planning the same thing.

Ofcom said its proposed strategic approach is: "Enabling the future release of potentially valuable harmonised mobile broadband spectrum in the 700 MHz band to meet the growth in demand for mobile data capacity."

However, the firm said that availability of the 700MHz spectrum may not happen until 2018. This is partly because an amendment will need to be made to the Geneva 06 agreement which underpinned digital switchover in Europe.

Ofcom touts an increase in total mobile traffic volume of 80 times in 2030 compared to 2012 under a medium growth scenario. In a high growth situation Ofcom said demand could be 300 times greater in 2030 than 2012.

The firm is proposing that the 600MHz spectrum could be used to provide additional digital terrestrial television DTT capacity after the 700MHz spectrum is released. If this is the case then Ofcom would not award anyone rights to the 600MHz that would limit its ability to change its use in the future.

The closing date for responses to the consultation is 7 June.

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