updated 04:05 pm EDT, Wed April 8, 2009
UK Pushing for 900MHz 3G
British cellular carriers O2 and Vodafone are being asked by the government to share their 3G spectrum as part of an effort to supply rural broadband. Although the two providers are currently the exclusive holders of the 900MHz band for faster wireless data, officials at the independent regulator Ofcom are asking the two to allow at least one other carrier to share the space and build out coverage in those areas that aren't already served.
Orange UK has already volunteered but so far has been met by resistance from O2 and Vodafone, both of whom would risk losing a key business advantage. Ofcom has nonetheless said it may force a decision by the end of April to ensure that a plan by communications minister Lord Carter to provide 2Mbps Internet access to all of Britain can be helped by the plan.
A contention-free alternative to use the 800MHz band, which will be freed up by a switch to all-digital broadcast TV in the UK, isn't likely to allow service before 2013, according to Orange.
Opening 900MHz frequencies has the potential to expand the use of 3G in Britain both through sheer area but also through better performance if allowed in existing areas, as the increased network presence would let customers get better reception on the longer-range and more indoor-capable frequency. Many 3G services in the country are often put on the 2,100MHz band.