Soaring demands for mobile data, which could increase 30-fold by 2030, has prompted Ofcom to investigate freeing up more spectrum to cope.
The regulator has launched a consultation to investigate the possibility of using the 700MHz band after 2018. The band is currently being used for digital and terrestrial television. The regulator said operators will need help in their attempts to satisfy soaring demand, whether it is through them upgrading services for 4G, offloading mobile data onto wi-fi or femtocell or building more mobile sites.
By using the 700MHz band, Ofcom said it will provide a better quality service to reach both indoor and outdoor locations. It will also reduce the number of new mobile sites that will need to be built to meet the growing demands. If the spectrum is used for mobile broadband, it will bring the UK in line with the US, which is using 700MHz for mobile broadband LTE. Australia and New Zealand are planning to use the same frequency for LTE.
Ofcom said mobile data demands are soaring, with mid-level estimates predicting an 80-fold growth between 2012 and 2030, and a 300-fold increase under a high growth scenario.
Ofcom will close the consultation on 7 June. Last month, the deadline passed for the regulator's separate consultation into the forthcoming 4G auction.