Britain retunes millions of TVs, clears 700 MHz band for 5G network

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Ofcom is releasing 80 megahertz of spectrum in the recently cleared 700 MHz band

Following a four-year process involving retuning nearly 20 million TV sets, Britain has officially cleared its 700 MHz band of airwaves, which frees up much-needed capacity for 5G services. The government has reported that the 700 MHz band is will provide solid mobile coverage, both indoors and across very wide areas, including rural environments.

According to Reuters, the U.K. government believes that releasing the airwaves will increase the total amount of the radio spectrum available for mobile services in the U.K. by nearly a fifth.

“We have overseen a quiet revolution in the airwaves,” commented Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman, “which will lead to better mobile coverage for rural communities and unlock new ways for 5G to boost business productivity and improve people’s lives.”

While the newly available spectrum won’t be auctioned off until January, U.K. telecom regulator Ofcom has previously said that it plans to begin the formal bidding process in November. Ofcom is releasing 80 megahertz of spectrum in the recently cleared 700 MHz band, as well as 120 megahertz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band.

In related news, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July gave the country’s operators until 2027 to completely remove Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, citing “sound technical reasons” that have to do with new security risks that did apply when the government sought to compromise with the Chinese vendor, agreeing to allowing the company a limited role in its 5G networks.

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