UK sets modest broadband target

The British Government has published a report outlining its plans to deliver 2Mbit/s broadband to all UK citizens by 2012. 

This is hardly an ambitious goal given that countries such as South Korea are already providing broadband at speeds up to 100Mbit/s. A mixture of technologies will be used to achieve the Government's goal, with mobile playing a key role.

However, there are issues concerning the spectrum allocations for mobile operators which will have to be addressed if mobile is to play its part in the broadband project. The main stumbling block is the question of spectrum refarming. The report says the Government will have ‘an independently produced guiding technical arbitration on the timing and cost of 900MHz refarming' by the end of September this year.

At present only Vodafone UK and O2 utilise this spectrum which is faster and more robust in terms of delivering mobile broadband, than the 1800MHz spectrum used by the other UK operator Orange, T-Mobile and 2. The refarming of the 800MHz spectrum, which will be freed up with the switch from analogue to digital television, will happen too late for the three 1800MHz operators to help in driving the Government's broadband plans.

There are also issues concerning the long-overdue 4G spectrum auction which the report does not address. Something positive did come out of the report for UK mobile operators, it confirms that they can all keep their licences indefinitely which should allow more certainty with regard to future investment in their networks.

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