Ofcom has given mobile networks the go-ahead to use 2G spectrum to offer 3G services such as mobile broadband.

The telecoms watchdog said the move will help networks "increase mobile broadband speeds, deliver improved in-building coverage and widen mobile broadband coverage in rural areas".

Initially, networks were only allowed to use 2G spectrums for making calls and text messages, while a limited amount of space on the 3G spectrum was reserved for 3G services. However, a change in European legislation means 3G services can be offered via the 2G spectrum.

The European Commission first proposed changes to the 1987 directive that restricted use of the 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrums to second-generation services based on the GSM standard in 2007, saying the original directive was stalling growth of 3G services.

Ofcom said it will be up to the individual networks as to how they use the 2G spectrum.

See also: 4G LTE services won't start till 2014