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Government mobile not-spot plans pose 'technical challenges' says Three

Wednesday, November 19th 2014 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The government’s proposals to improve mobile coverage across the UK pose “difficult technical challenges” according to Three’s chief technical officer.

Earlier this month, culture secretary Sajid Javid set out four ideas as part of the government’s plans to eliminate poor mobile coverage.

The plans include national roaming – phones switching onto another network when theirs isn’t available – infrastructure sharing, reforming virtual networks and obliging each network to cover a certain percentage of the country.

Bryn Jones of Three told Cable.co.uk: “We want all customers to have good coverage everywhere.

“To do that you’ve got to provide a great customer experience and the current proposals around how to do that do put some quite difficult technical challenges in play, which may cause customers to experience some problems.”

He said Three’s approach was to roll out 800MHz spectrum – the frequency awarded by Ofcom in its 4G spectrum auction in February 2013.

“The key thing with 800MHz spectrum is that is travels a lot further than the current 3G spectrum that we have.

“So that will provide us far better rural coverage but will also provide us far better coverage indoors and deep indoors in particular.

“Our strategy is to roll out that spectrum and that will provide the near-ubiquitous coverage that our customers need.”

Mr Jones’ comments came as Ofcom announced it was making frequencies used by digital terrestrial TV services, such as Freeview, available for mobile broadband services.

The regulator is planning to allow mobile network operators to use the 700MHz frequency, which is also used by wireless microphones, from 2022.

Ofcom has said it is working with the programme making and special events sector to identify frequency bands that wireless microphones could use.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: “This is a crucial next step in the development of the UK's communications infrastructure.

“This decision ensures that we are making the raw materials available with which investors and companies can build the services which will support the digital economy of the future.

“More spectrum will be available for mobile broadband where demand is especially high, but the UK will retain a competitive terrestrial television platform as well.”

Ofcom has also invited potential bidders to comment on its next spectrum auction, which will take place in late 2015 and will focus on the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands – frequencies good for providing high data capacity.

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