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Mobile Broadband Coverage To Be Improved

The Comprehensive Spending Review announced this week will be welcomed by mobile operators as the government intends to release new spectrum for mobile broadband use.

IT spending looks likely to shrink as part of the overall cuts, but the move to open up new spectrum could improve mobile broadband coverage.

The document reveals that "at least 500MHz of public sector spectrum below 5GHz will be released over the next 10 years for new mobile communication uses, including mobile broadband".

The new spectrum is most likely to come from the Ministry of Defence, which conducted an internal audit (PDF) on its allocations in 2008 which found that some spectrum could be freed up in certain areas. contacted Ofcom for clarification on where the new spectrum may come from, but the watchdog was unable to provide any more details at this time.

Mobile operators are likely to welcome to the move, as they struggle to meet huge demands from customers using an ever-growing number of internet-enabled mobile devices like smartphones, tablet and laptops.

However, Vodafone, TalkTalk and Orange declined to comment on the matter, while O2 and Three had not replied at the time of publication.

The government also intends to auction off the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrums to help meet mobile broadband demands, something that has been on the cards for some time.

Ian Fogg, a principal analyst at Forrester, suggested that the auctions are good news for mobile operators as both bands are suitable for mobile broadband.

"The 2.6GHz spectrum is well suited for the next generation of wireless connectivity, essentially LTE, while 800MHz can provide good in-building coverage and will require fewer base stations to broadcast the signal," he said.

However, Fogg warned that the effects of the auction will not be seen for a couple of years as it will take time for the 800MHz spectrum to be switched from its current analogue television broadcasting use and for phones to be adapted to the signal.

"Mobile manufacturers will need to put the right technology in their devices to be able to work on this signal, while there also needs to be the auction itself, all of which could mean it's not until 2012 that the spectrum starts to be used," he said.

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