Ofcom allows Vodafone, O2 and Three to repurpose 2G and 3G spectrum for 4G

Ofcom has ruled that UK mobile phone operators may repurpose their 2G and 3G spectrum for 4G use. The announcement follows a two month consultation triggered by requests from Vodafone, O2 and Three.

Previous regulations meant the companies could only use their existing frequencies for the slower wireless mobile technologies without submitting an application.

Ofcom said in a statement: "The decision allows mobile operators to increase mobile broadband speeds in future by re-using their 2G and 3G spectrum for 4G, and to plan and implement moves to 4G technology in these bands without having to submit future regulatory applications.

"The decision also meets Ofcom's objective to liberalise mobile spectrum for use with all currently-available technologies."

Last year EE was granted permission to reuse their 1800 MHz spectrum to provide 4G services in the UK, whilst other companies had to wait for the auction of additional airwaves held this year. This allowed EE to be the first provider of 4G in the country, which outraged rivals.

Following the announcement last summer Vodafone said, "The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market."

Under the new rules, O2 and Vodafone have also been granted permission to increase the maximum transmission power of their 900 MHz masts which should boost their coverage.

Vodafone, O2 and Three are expected to launch their 4G services this summer. The change of rules will not affect the rollout, as repurposing spectrum is a lengthy process.