Mobile and wireless broadband

Published: 20 July 2023

Communications for businesses and consumers rely on spectrum for:

  • access by terminals and other end-user devices; and
  • backhaul communications between parts of the supporting network infrastructure.

Public wireless networks provide services to a range of businesses and consumers, accessible to all, while private networks may be provided or self-installed for closed user groups.

The following information may be of interest both to consumers and to businesses with commercial interests in this area of communications.

A mobile phone is a wireless user station that connects to a network by a radio link. You can use a mobile phone to make or take calls almost anywhere within the UK and, through roaming, onto other networks abroad.

Cellular telephony was initially developed for mobile business communications. Mobile phones are now essential items for millions of people across the UK, whether for work, keeping in touch with family or shopping online. A public network is accessible to all, while there are also spectrum options for private networks, such as Shared Access and Local Access licences.

Wireless access systems are a means of making connections between users’ devices or systems and telecommunication networks. They may deliver a range of electronic traffic including telephony, high-speed data, television and multimedia services. As technologies develop, some systems previously used to deliver services to fixed locations such as the user’s home or office are becoming increasingly capable of delivering mobile services.

The choice of spectrum bands for such technologies is primarily a decision for industry. Ofcom does not allocate spectrum to particular access technologies. The holder of a technology neutral licence will be able to make their own choice of access technology and the timing for upgrading from any earlier technologies.

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