Network expansion plans

The government has launched a consultation on improving the UK’s digital infrastructure by extending broadband services and 3G coverage to as much as 90 per cent of the country.



The consultation is based on proposals made by Independent Spectrum Broker (ISB), Kip Meek, on how to best to use the UK’s digital spectrum. The recommendations have been designed to overcome lack of bandwidth and restrictions on the expansion of mobile internet.



The proposals include applying an annual fee on 3G licence terms from 2021 to extended network coverage, coordinating an auction of the 2.6GHz and 800MHz spectrum and introducing short-term spectrum caps to encourage a competitive environment amongst operators.



In addition, the consultation will look at applying coverage conditions to operators using the 800MHz or 900MHz spectrum to provide mobile broadband to rural areas and opening up the 2G spectrum so operators are able to use these frequencies for 3G technology.



Minister for Digital Britain, Stephen Timms, said: ‘Digital Britain is the government’s vision for creating a world-class digital infrastructure boosting jobs, growth and competitiveness.



‘To realise that vision it’s vital that we make the best use of the digital spectrum and ensure that sufficient bandwidth is available for sophisticated next-generation services, and not just calls and texts.



‘This package will free up the airwaves for the expansion of wireless and 3G services, increasing their reach to consumers and businesses across as much as 90 per cent of the country, including rural communities.’



The government has invited stakeholders to put forward their views on the consultation before 8 January 2010.