The number of wireless networks in the UK has increased by more than 10% in a year because of rising demand for mobile broadband, according to the Ofcom 2007 communications market report.
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Wireless networks are allowing more people to access the internet on the move, said the report, and some 11.2% (7,800,000) of mobile phones now connect to a 3G network (70% up on 2005 at 4,600,000). The report also shows the number of Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, which enable broadband speed wireless internet access, is increasing. In April 2007 there were 11,447 hotspots compared with 10,339 a year previously.
By April 2007, 53% of the UK had a broadband connection. Headline broadband speeds - the maximum advertised speed of a service - have doubled over the past 12 months. The average blended headline broadband speed stood at 3.6Mbps at the end of 2006 compared with 1.6Mbps in the previous year.
By June 2007, this had risen to 4.6Mbps. "The increase in headline speeds is due in part to continued investment and growth in local loop unbundling which enables operators to install their own equipment in BT's exchanges and offer broadband services direct to consumers," said the report.
Ofcom will also auction the 192Mhz part of the radio spectrum in the first quarter of 2008, which could pave the way for the nationwide introduction of mobile Wi-Max into the UK. The regulator will publish the terms of the auction later this year and is in the process of finalising licensing terms and conditions of sale.