UK communications regulator Ofcom has introduced measures to allow mobile operators to use their 2G spectrum for 3G services.
Ofcom has said that opening up of the older 2G spectrum, previously reserved for services like voice calls and text messaging, will boost current network capacity.
Mobile phone operators are currently only allowed to use a limited amount of spectrum to deliver 3G services, and so suffer from less coverage and are more susceptible to interference.
The changes, the regulator said, will allow for more customers to be served and higher mobile broadband speeds.
They are also set to improve the quality of coverage, allowing customers to access 3G services in more locations, such as rural areas and inside buildings, with “greater consistency”.
In its Communications Market Report for 2010, Ofcom noted a huge increase in the ownership of smartphones, and with it a growth in accessing the Internet from mobiles.
With the new measures, Ofcom explained, the spectrum could be used to match the growing demand for 3G services from mobile devices.
“Today’s move means that this spectrum could in future be used to meet the growing demand from smartphone devices and the like for 3G services,” Ofcom said.