Next-generation 4G data services will bring high-speed mobile broadband to at least 98% of the UK according to telecoms regulator Ofcom.
The regulator has announced plans to auction spectrum to enable mobile phone operators to offer high-speed services.
Spectrum will be offered in two bands (800 MHz and 2.6 GHz) which Ofcom says will help ensure services are “widely available across the UK, while offering capacity to cope with significant demand in urban centres.”
One of the 800 MHz lots will carry an obligation to provide a service capable of being received indoors by at least 98% of the UK population by the end of 2017.
Ofcom says imposing that condition on one operator “will drive other operators to extend their own coverage in response.”
The UK’s mobile spectrum is currently held by Everything Everywhere, Telefónica or Vodafone who provide network capacity to smaller and virtual mobile operators such as Three and Virgin Mobile.
Ofcom says it will reserve capacity “for a fourth national wholesaler” to introduce new competition into the market.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “The 4G auction has been designed to deliver the maximum possible benefit to consumers and citizens across the UK.
“As a direct result of the measures Ofcom is introducing, consumers will be able to surf the web, stream videos and download email attachments on their mobile device from almost every home in the UK.”
The auction is expected to take place later this year with operators rolling out services in 2013.