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UK airwaves cleared for 4G LTE, says Ofcom

800MHz spectrum is cleared of Freeview five months ahead of schedule

4G LTE smartphone network

The UK's airwaves have been cleared for the arrival of 4G LTE mobile broadband after a four-year process.

We do, as you might know, already have 4G thanks to EE but we're talking about the 800MHz spectrum which has been previously used for Freeview television broadcasting and audio devices. Completion of the huge project will arrive tomorrow, five months ahead of the original schedule.

See: What is 4G? A complete guide to 4G.

O2 and Vodafone are both due to launch 4G services this summer while Three has said it will wait until after its rivals. The regulator has agreed that O2 will cover 98 percent of the UK indoors by 2017.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom, said: "This week we are clearing the path for 4G mobile broadband, allowing mobile companies to provide coverage across the UK."

"4G services will reach 98% of the UK population indoors – and even more when outdoors – which will provide a significant boost for rural businesses and consumers."

See also: What's the best 4G smartphone in the UK?

Ofcom said a final retune of TV frequencies will take place tomorrow in northern Scotland, "marking the end of a major engineering programme carried out region-by-region".

While the 800MHz spectrum is now clear, and 1800MHz already in use by EE, work on the 2.6GHz band is 'well underway' and will be completed in most areas by the autumn. "The use of 2.6 GHz spectrum by 4G operators requires some air traffic control and radar systems in neighbouring frequency bands to be upgraded, in order to avoid interference." said Ofcom.

The 2.6GHz spectrum will be used to transfer large amounts of data in concentrated areas.

Follow Chris Martin and @PCAdvisor on Twitter.


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