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Reducing the risk of a mobile data crunch in the UK

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As more and more people use smartphones, laptops and other mobile devices to work on the move, the pressures placed on UK networks are continuing to rise.

Britain’s 3G mobile networks are already creaking under the strain of increased data consumption – particularly through the mobile internet.

Some 20 million Gigabytes of data is being consumed each month by UK mobile broadband users, according to Ofcom.

And as such, the arrival of 4G has not come soon enough.

This creates crucial additional capacity to cope with the huge masses of data being transferred between devices.

But Ofcom expects a similar problem to be experienced in years to come, as the launch of super-fast dongle, smartphone and tablet services encourage more people to use the web remotely.

By 2030, demand for mobile data could be 80 times higher than today, the media regulator stated.

This has the potential to cause problems for mobile workers – and in two decades time it is likely there will be many more of them.

Slower speeds and reduced reliability could be two of the problems faced by mobile workers as they aim to operate productively away from the office.

But Ofcom has identified the potential issue, and is taking steps to reduce the risks of another mobile data crunch in the future.

The regulator plans to enable the release of new airwaves for future generations of mobile devices – potentially using spectrum in the 700MHz frequency band.

Thus is currently utilised for digital terrestrial television, but may have a use for the delivery of mobile data in Europe and around the world as spectrum planning is harmonised.

Ed Richards, chief executive at Ofcom, said: “Within the coming months we will hold the UK’s largest-ever auction of mobile spectrum for 4G.

“However, that may not be enough to meet consumers’ future data demands, which is why we are already making significant efforts to prepare to go beyond 4G.

“Our plans are designed to avoid a capacity crunch, ensuring that the UK’s mobile infrastructure can continue to support the inescapable growth in consumer demand and economic growth more generally.”