Mobile Data Strategy

Published: 21 November 2013
Consultation closes: 30 January 2014
Status: Closed (statement published)

The objective of our mobile data strategy is to identify and prioritise actions which Ofcom could undertake to facilitate the continued long term growth in consumer and citizen benefits from increasing use of mobile data services. In doing so we recognise that increases in the efficiency of delivering mobile data services, particularly through technology and network improvements, will be important for minimising the impact of this growth on other services.

This document considers the challenges that rapidly growing demand for these services could raise and what this may imply for Ofcom's work over the coming years. In particular, we identify a number of spectrum bands where we think further work should be carried out to consider their potential future availability for mobile data use, whilst recognising the many other competing demands for spectrum.

Update published 30|6|2016

This document is an update to our long term strategy for addressing the increasing use of data by mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops. Spectrum plays a key role in enabling future mobile data growth, and our role is to secure the optimal use of spectrum to benefit citizen and consumers and make communications work for everyone. The strategy was first set out in a document published in May 2014 but, as this is a fast moving industry, we will update stakeholders from time to time on any changes in our priorities.

There have been some changes in the landscape for mobile data since May 2014 due to technological and international developments - in particular the early development of 5G technology. Although most of our strategy continues to be fit for purpose, we have decided that some adjustments should be made to continue to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of mobile technology.

This document is an update to our previously published strategy rather than a consultation. Nevertheless, if stakeholders wish to provide evidence or comment to any aspect of it they may do so by emailing

Update on our strategy for mobile spectrum (PDF, 363.4 KB)

Statement published : 28|05|2014

This document is our long term strategy to address the increasing use of data by mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops. UK citizens and consumers already benefit considerably from the use of these devices and the data traffic they consume is expected to grow significantly in the future.

There are a number of ways to increase the capacity of mobile networks to deal with this growth, such as more efficient technology and greater use of small cells, but use of additional spectrum is likely to be part of the solution. We are already preparing to award suitable spectrum in the 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz bands and are today consulting on a proposal to release the 700 MHz band for mobile use. However, the potential scale of the future challenge, the potential benefits that could be achieved by meeting it, and the long lead times normally associated with changing spectrum use, mean that developing a long term strategy is important.

This document therefore identifies additional spectrum bands for potential mobile use and prioritises our efforts on these. It describes what we plan to do to better understand the possibilities for each band, and, where appropriate, ensure there is an option for future mobile use.

We will take forward the band-specific actions identified in this document and continue to develop our understanding of future demand and technology trends. We will update and refine our strategy periodically as necessary.

Mobile Data Strategy Statement (PDF, 403.6 KB)

There are links between this work and two other documents published today:

  • our consultation on a change of use of the 700MHz band
  • a discussion document on the future of free to view TV

As explained in the consultation document (see, in particular, paragraphs A7.2 and A7.3), the purpose of our modelling was to give a high level illustration of how mobile network capacity may develop in the next 10 - 20 years. The modelling approach that we have adopted for this consultation is highly simplified and depends on forecasts of the future that are highly uncertain. Therefore, the assumptions and results of this broad brush analysis should not be treated as determinative as to our prioritisation of bands, being for illustrative purposive only. In addition, any inconsistency between this modelling and prior analysis does not mean necessarily that Ofcom has changed its view, nor should the assumptions used in this analysis be taken to be Ofcom's considered view on these matters.

Simplified model used to produce the high level capacity illustrations in section 7 and annex 7

Back to top