Ofcom opens 4G door for O2, Three and Vodafone to go hard on 4G

Ofcom opens 4G door for O2, Three and Vodafone
Britain's about to go superfast

Ofcom has today confirmed that it will be liberalising various mobile spectrums, allowing carriers to choose which service they run on them.

This means that 4G and now be rolled out on the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands, and gives networks the choice of which service to run on particular bands - be it 2G, 3G or 4G.

The reason for this decision is that it will remove regulatory barriers and allow the latest mobile technology to be deployed as quickly as possible - although networks aren't likely to take advantage of it just yet.

No more hoops

It also removes the need for carriers to go through any further processes when it comes to moving 4G technology onto the new bands, as well as being able to extend the reach of their 4G services.

This is good news for the likes of O2, Three and Vodafone, who are all playing catch up to EE - currently the only network in the UK which offers 4G at the moment, but who will also benefit from the move.

We already knew this liberalisation was on the cards as Ofcom proposed the plan back in February after Vodafone and Hutchison 3G (parent company of Three) requested bands become free to aid 4G advancement.

That said the freeing up of spectrum doesn't have huge short term impact, with the changes more geared towards opening the door to future development.

Three has its says

A Three spokesperson told TechRadar: "The Ofcom announcement isn't massively significant for Three. We don't have a 2G network like the other carriers, so we don't need to refarm that.

"In terms of 4G we're focussing on the 1800MHz spectrum from Vodafone and the 800MHz we got from the auction.

"It's useful to have the freedom in the future and it's good to get it out the way now, but doesn't really effect our business at the moment."

Vodafone not phased either

These feelings seem to be echoed over at Vodafone, with a spokesperson telling us: "This is part of Ofcom's stated ambition to move towards being technology-neutral when it comes to licensed spectrum. This has long been trailed and is the last step towards achieving that ambition.

"It has no bearing on our 4G launch. We always wanted to run 4G on new 800MHz spectrum as it provides the level of indoor coverage our customers expect from us.

"As yet, there is very little kit available to run 4G on our existing 900MHz or 2100MHz spectrum and we only have a very small part of the 1800MHz spectrum."

Update: O2 also has the same stance, with a spokesperson confirming to TechRadar: "Although these changes won't have an impact on our 4G launch this summer, we welcome the decision from Ofcom and the flexibility that these changes will allow in the future."

We've contacted EE as well to find out what this means for them, and we'll update this article once we hear back.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.