Hope for better phone coverage

PEOPLE who suffer from poor mobile phone reception in Lincolnshire could benefit from new plans to roll out 4G signal across the UK.

Regulator Ofcom has outlined a number of proposals for making the 4G mobile spectrum available – extending the coverage to at least 98 per cent of the population and plans to promote competition.

Its announcement offers hope for businesses and residents in Lincolnshire who currently struggle to get strong 3G and 2G signals.

The move to 4G has been opened up by the switch to digital television signals, with airwaves in the 800mhz band to be auctioned off along with higher frequency airwaves in the 2.6ghz band at the end of 2012.

The amount of space freed up is the equivalent to three-quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today.

Ofcom first launched a consultation on 4G last year, and proposed to oblige anyone who got a licence to ensure coverage for 95 per cent of the population.

The Government has since announced a £150m fund to boost areas where there is poor or no mobile coverage, causing Ofcom to toughen its proposals.

Now Ofcom is consulting on plans to oblige operators to cover 98 per cent of the UK population. It also wants to require that one 800mhz operator provides 4G coverage that matches the existing 2G coverage and extends into mobile ‘not spot’ areas – such as parts of rural Lincolnshire.

Ofcom believes the two conditions could mean 4G signal for more than 98 per cent of the population and access to mobile broadband services where it is needed most, with areas such as ours not having wide access to the current high speed internet packages.

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “This is a crucial step in preparing for the most significant spectrum release in the UK for many years.

“The UK benefits from being one of the most competitive mobile phone markets in Europe. This means that consumers pay less for mobile communications services and have the choice to shop around for packages that suit them best. As the UK enters a new generation of mobile communications, Ofcom’s objective is to promote effective competition and to stimulate both investment and innovation.

“In addition we are proposing a significant enhancement of mobile broadband, extending 4G coverage beyond levels of existing 2G coverage – helping to serve many areas of the UK that have traditionally been underserved by network coverage.”

A final decision is due by the end of the summer.