Ofcom opens 2G spectrum for 3G use

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulatory body, has announced that from today 2G spectrum will now be made available for 3G, an effort to cope with the substantial demand for 3G services.

The decision will mean greater network capacity and thus higher mobile broadband speeds and improved coverage throughout the UK, including inside buildings and in rural areas.

The 2G spectrum was previously used primarily for voice calls and text messages, but the mobile industry has changed significantly over the last few years, forcing Ofcom to remove the walls separating the 2G and 3G networks.

Ofcom said that its decision to open up the 2G airwaves was based on research it had been conducting for the last number of years, which revealed a huge increase in smartphone ownership and a surge in mobile internet demand.

The number of people who owned a smartphone in the UK grew from 7.2 million to 12.8 million between May 2009 and May 2010, an increase of 81 percent, according to the Communications Market Report for 2010 that was commissioned by Ofcom.

This number will have increased further since May of last year, and the advent of 3G tablets is likely to also be contributing to the high volumes of mobile internet traffic.