Back in March the Budget was unveiled by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and featured a number of important measures for the UK economy. Amongst the key points of the budget was a commitment to continue investing in infrastructure for Britain’s burgeoning super-fast 4G mobile network, which will be great news for anyone wanting to make the switch to 4G this year.
The Budget document itself stated:
“In order to meet the commitment to release 500MHz of spectrum by 2020, the government will look to introduce further ﬁnancial incentives to ensure more efﬁcient use and management of public sector spectrum holdings,”
What this means is that although an auction for 4G spectrum has already been held between the main mobile operators, more is left to be managed and sold. The mobile company Everything Everywhere (EE) was the first to get permission to use 4G spectrum, as it was able to use existing 3G infrastructure to roll out its new network and offer coverage for 4G mobile phones in many major UK towns and cities. Other operators such as Vodafone and O2 now have their share of the 4G spectrum, but there were caps placed on the amount of more valuable low-frequency bands some operators (i.e. those that already owned a portion of the 4G spectrum) could buy.
At the time, Ofcom, which was overseeing the auction, said:”We are entirely comfortable with the rules that we put in place on the caps and the reserved spectrum to ensure that there is effective competition in future to the benefit of UK consumers and businesses,”
Getting back to the promises announced by the Chancellor George Osborne in the Budget, it seems that the government is committed to providing the UK with what it describes as the “fastest broadband and mobile telephony in Europe”. At the moment, the UK is third in Europe when it comes to superfast broadband coverage, lagging behind countries such as Spain and Germany. However, Ofcom has also found that the UK has the highest internet usage of anywhere on the continent, suggesting that a significant investment is needed in order to match supply of superfast speeds with demand for increased internet access.
In terms of what the Budget commitment to improving 4G infrastructure means for customers and mobile users, it is good news. Whilst more taxpayers’ money may be going towards developing the 4G network, in the future anyone choosing to buy new iPhone 5 UK models, or indeed any handset compatible with 4G, will be able to benefit from incredibly fast speeds and a whole new way of accessing the internet on the move.