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Advisory Group Wants Ofcom To Use 4G To Enhance Rural Mobile Service

The Communications Consumer Panel, which advises Ofcom on various issues, has urged the UK telecommunications watchdog to encourage mobile phone networks to offer better coverage in rural areas with an estimated three million households concerned.

The regulator, it says, should use the auction of the radio spectrum for 4G networks - which it calls a unique opportunity and will take place in 2013 - to help achieve this aim.

More specifically, the entity calls for the use of 4G technology to provide rural areas with wireless download speeds of around 10Mbps, up from the current average speeds of 1.5Mbps reached on 3G networks.

The CCP notes in the report (which can be found here) that most of the not-spots from ten years ago ares still not-spots today. One of the ideas on the table is a "reverse auction" which would encourage mobile phone operators to get public money to fund the extension of their services to rural areas.

In addition, the CCP suggests that Ofcom should "still take reserve powers now in the combined award to introduce a regulated access condition, under the circumstances where the UK market is failing to deliver an effective choice of broadband mobile coverage and/or quality of data speed or coverage is balkanising to the detriment of citizens and consumers. "

The current estimates put the number of additional base stations needed to improve rural coverage in the UK at 1400, costing around £250 million.

The 800MHz spectrum band is being sold following the national switch to digital TV and is expected to bring a few more billion pounds to the nation's coffers.