Ofcom has a duty to ensure the wide availability of communications services to citizens and consumers. Current levels of mobile coverage are not meeting consumers’ needs, and our recent Connected Nations 2017 report showed that mobile coverage is particularly poor in rural areas, including in the Nations.
The 700 MHz spectrum band is a valuable piece of spectrum, currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (and for Programme Making and Special Event use) which we are planning to award to mobile services in the second half of 2019. We are currently undertaking a major clearance programme for the band. The technical characteristics of the 700 MHz band make it suitable for improving mobile coverage.
To ensure widespread improvements in mobile coverage across the UK, we are proposing to attach coverage obligations to some of the licences we will award for the 700 MHz band. These obligations will require winning bidders to roll out improved mobile coverage in rural areas and the nations. This consultation seeks views on our proposals for these coverage obligations.
Given the scale of the problem, this approach will not be able to fix all mobile coverage issues consumers face today. Our proposals therefore form an important part of a wider body of work aimed at improving mobile coverage in the UK.
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