Faced with booming demand for additional capacity for mobile data communications, Britain is embarking on a review of existing radio frequency band use, and considering the release of further spectrum bands.
A consultation paper published by UK telco regulator Ofcom revealed the regulator is working with the UK Ministry of Defence to release 2.3 and 3.4 gigahertz (GHz) bands from the public sector and make them available for commercial use.
Bands used for digital terrestrial television in the 700MHz range could also be reorganised for commercial access, Ofcom suggested, along with "white space" frequency gaps for broadcast signals.
The issue of spectrum is hotly debated in Australia. Telstra has argued the local defence force has "large swathes of spectrum" that it does not need and should share with the private sector, while the wider industry, including government bodies, continues to battle over the allocation of spectrum for emergency service networks.
The British government is also looking at reorganising the 2.7GHz band, currently used for radar, to make available 100MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband use.
Sharing the 3.6GHz satellite link band with mobile services is also under consideration.
Ofcom said the amount of spectrum it has identified amounts to 881MHz for downstream use. This compares to the 135MHz in total of spectrum for 4G mobile use the UK government put up for auction in February, and which sold for far less than anticipated.
According to Ofcom, the new spectrum could boost mobile data transfer capacity by over 25 times by 2030, helping meet demand for machine to machine communications for example.
Mobile services in Britain currently use spectrum in the 800, 900, and 1800MHz bands, as well as the 2.1, 2.6 and 3.6GHz bands, the latter radio frequency range also being used for Ethernet point to point and point to multipoint networks.