Press release

Speed up of 4G roll-out to boost economic growth

UK consumers and businesses are set to get comprehensive next generation mobile broadband services in the 1st half of next year.

UK consumers and businesses are set to get comprehensive next generation mobile broadband services in the 1st half of next year, as the four main mobile operators agreed significant progress and the 4G spectrum auction is on track.

Following a meeting with mobile operators today, Culture Secretary Maria Miller welcomed the plans to bring more next generation mobile services (4G) to consumers next spring.  The deal, worth up to £3 billion to the UK economy, will give people Internet speeds on smartphones and tablets up to 10 times faster than currently available.

Delivering 4G services is a key part of the government’s commitment to providing the UK with the digital infrastructure businesses need to succeed and grow. The government is investing £830m to provide the UK with the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015 as well as extending mobile coverage.

Later this year Ofcom will begin auctioning the spectrum that many mobile companies will use for 4G services. Over the last month, instigated by the government, Ofcom, mobile network operators, Digital UK, TV broadcasters, and others have been working to speed up the process of making that spectrum available. The Culture Secretary welcomed the close cooperation in helping to accelerate 4G roll out. Today’s meeting dispelled any fears of litigation and the Culture Secretary welcomed the co-operation of the operators.

Thanks to a number of initiatives, mobile operators will be able to roll-out 4G services to the vast majority of the UK in the first half of next year, six months earlier than previously estimated. This will follow EE’s launch of a 4G service ahead of Christmas this year.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said:

“Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy. I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services.

“The open and collaborative approach taken between the government and the mobile companies will have hugely beneficial results for UK business and investment.

“We anticipate that 4G services will boost the UK’s economy by around £2-3 billion.  This is an example of the government listening and responding to huge demand from both the public and business. High-speed mobile connections, will mean that online services can be accessed more easily and quickly. 

“By speeding up the delivery of 4G in the UK, the government is creating enormous opportunities. It is up to the operators to now deliver the services that businesses and consumers expect and we are confident they will succeed.

“I am grateful for the efforts of all concerned in bringing forward the 4G timetable.”

The key move to speed up the delivery of 4G is:

  • accelerating the freeing-up of spectrum earlier than planned

In addition:

  • facilitating the set up by mobile network operators, much earlier than originally envisaged, of a body that will solve the interference with TV signals that could affect a limited number of households

Also under way:

  • work with mobile operators, local government and others to consider how the planning process might be streamlined to speed up the deployment of mobile infrastructure.

Notes to editors

Ofcom will begin the spectrum auction by the end of the year. It will be the largest ever auction of spectrum for mobile services in the UK. Details of Ofcom’s plans for the auction can be found here.

In August Ofcom granted Everything Everywhere permission to use spectrum the company already held for 4G. More details here.

The government allocated £530 million to help take superfast broadband to rural areas. In August last year we announced how much each English county had been allocated to help roll-out superfast broadband.  Details of the progress being made by each local authority is available here or alternatively, see the Google map showing the status of local broadband plans across the UK.
 
The market will take superfast broadband to around two thirds of the country and the Government is providing additional funding to make it economically viable for telecoms companies to roll-out broadband to the whole of the UK. Our investment will help provide 90% of homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband and for everyone in the UK to have access to at least 2Mbps.

The Government is also investing £150 million in creating super-connected cities with 80-100 Mbps broadband and city-wide high-speed mobile connectivity. Last month the Culture Secretary announced the funding allocated to the UK’s first 10 super-connected cities.  The Government is currently considering applications for a second round of super-connected city funding.

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