Digital TV switch over finally frees up UK airwaves for 4G

The digital TV switch over is almost complete, paving the way to UK migration to 4G mobile networking

The digital TV switch over is completed in London today, paving the way for the UK’s migration to 4G mobile networking, which promises to offer bandwidth equivalent to office-based local area network access.

Switching over the UK's analogue TV signal and replacing it with a digital signal frees up the airwaves to make way for 4G. 

According to O2, which has been running a 4G trial in London since December 2011, users have managed to connect at speeds up to 150Mbps, which means a 40Mb file can be downloaded in a matter of seconds.

Almost 1,000 people have participated in O2’s trial, which includes 25 sites and covers an area of 40sq km, stretching from Hyde Park to Canary Wharf and The O2, including Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross.

Ronan Dunne, chief executive of Telefónica UK (O2), said: “The new spectrum will increase capacity, quality and speed. We estimate that mobile broadband capacity will increase by 20 to 40 times from today’s levels. This will allow us to deliver true connectivity through a suite of innovative digital services, that work seamlessly and at speed for the benefit of consumers, business and UK plc.”

The radio spectrum released from its analogue TV legacy is to be auctioned by telecoms regulator Ofcom later this year. The auction has been delayed on several occasions due to technical and commercial considerations, and as mobile network operators circle each other in preparation for bidding for access to radio frequencies that will allow them to claim a stake of what is expected to be a highly lucrative 4G market.

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