Ofcom is planning to boost 3G connectivity in rural parts of the UK by freeing up older mobile phone frequencies in favour of the newer, quicker 3G technology.

The telecoms watchdog wants to relax current restrictions on who can use the older 2G mobile spectrum. This would allow more operators to use the lower frequency, thereby freeing up chunks of the higher-end band, The Guardian reported. If successful, the Ofcom proposals would bring better 3G coverage to rural areas, improve mobile download speeds, and boost reception.

Frequency auction

Ofcom plans to hold an auction to decide which operators get to use the freed-up spectrum. O2 and Vodafone currently use the 900MHz frequency of the 2G spectrum, while Orange and T-Mobile use the higher 1800MHz band.

"Our proposals are designed to make more spectrum available for high-speed mobile broadband services across the whole of the UK and to ensure that the UK mobile market continues to be one of the most competitive and innovative in the world," said Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards.

Ofcom's consultation period started on yesterday and will run through until 29 November.