4G to get faster and cheaper

Regulator Ofcom has outlines its plans to make Freeview TV spectrum available for 4G mobile broadband.

4G is still a relatively new technology in the mobile world but with millions of people already using it, the existing infrastructure faces congestion. The move to use the 700 MHz spectrum for 4G instead of TV will make mobile broadband better in terms of performance and cheaper in cost. Read: 4G vs 3G network speed test.

Ofcom said it believes the benefits will substantially outweigh the costs. Although it won't happen for a long time, few existing 4G-enabled smartphones and tablets support the 700 MHz band.

"Enabling the 700 MHz band to be used for mobile data will allow mobile networks to provide better performance at a lower cost, which will bring considerable benefits to citizens and consumers," said Ofcom.

There is, however, a bit of a wait involved as Ofcom plans to make the spectrum available for 4G use by the start of 2022. It will be implemented sooner if possible and work will begin immediately.

See also: EE trials voice calls over Wi-Fi and 4G.

Given the timeframe, there is major work to be done and the services which currently use the 700 MHz - including digital terrestrial television and wireless communication for theatrical, musical and sporting events – will have to be moved to other frequencies.

Ofcom ensure there will be no compromising the existing benefits and no significant disruption. Experts are likening it to opening an additional lane on busy motorway.

"Viewers will not need to take any action as a result of this change until around 2019. For the vast majority of TV viewers the only impact of this decision will be that they need to retune their televisions," Ofcom advised.