Ofcom this week gave the green light for mobile broadband operators to trade spectrum licenses. The move, which has been anticipated since December 2010, will permit mobile broadband network providers, such as 3 Mobile and Vodafone to buy and sell mobile spectrum. The Telecoms Regulator hopes the new regulations will help operators respond more efficiently to demand.
“In general, the more spectrum an operator holds, the more telephone conversations and internet traffic it can carry over its network. Not all operators hold the same amount of spectrum, and the level of demand for mobile services also differs from area to area,” said Ofcom.
One of the issues which impacts the quality of mobile broadband services is network congestion, caused by too many customers using smart phones or tablets to access the internet. Ofcom estimates that out of 80 million mobile phones in the UK, nearly 13 million are smart phones, which places a large burden on mobile internet networks. Allowing operators to buy more spectrum to cope with customer demand, or to sell what they don’t need to other companies, should lead to better mobile services for the consumer, Ofcom believes.
The move could also mean that customers who use congested networks at peak times, could benefit from better mobile broadband coverage and speed, assuming their network provider purchases more spectrum to increase their data handling capacity.