Ofcom to allow 4G refarming on 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands

10 Jul 2013

Having concluded a consultation on proposals to amend the country’s 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz mobile licences, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has issued a statement setting out its final decisions on the matter. To that end, the watchdog has confirmed that it will proceed with the variations that permit the use of LTE and WiMAX technology in all three of the aforementioned bands, while it also said it will increase the maximum permitted power in the 900MHz licences by 3dB. Further, Ofcom will update a number of terms and conditions in these concessions ‘in order to align them more closely with the equivalent terms and conditions in the recently awarded 800MHz and 2.6GHz licences’.

While only Vodafone UK and Hutchison 3G UK (H3G UK) had actually requested licence variations prior to the publication of Ofcom’s consultation, the regulator confirmed that both O2 UK and EE have since called for their licences to be amended. As such, Vodafone and O2 have both had their respective 900MHz and 1800MHz licences updated, while the 2100MHz concessions held by Vodafone, H3G UK, O2 UK and EE have also been varied.

Commenting on the development, Ofcom said in statement detailing the plans: ‘This decision delivers a long standing objective to liberalise all mobile licences so as to remove the regulatory barriers to deployment of the latest available mobile technology. Even though operators may not seek to deploy 4G services in the newly liberalised bands in the immediate future, the interests of consumers will be served by the fact that these bands have been liberalised now, ahead of a market led transition to their use for 4G technology in future. As a result, operators can plan and implement a transition to 4G technology in these bands without having to engage in a further regulatory process.’

United Kingdom, EE, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), O2 UK, Ofcom, Vodafone UK