While the demand to integrate 3G into handsets is slowly building (Prime example #1: the iPhone), coverage can still be patchy at best and for once Ofcom is determined to throw off its old reactive stance and go all pro on us.
It has proposed the sensible (though admittedly obvious) solution of opening up the old GPRS limited 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrums which would vastly increase both the range and speed potentials for 3G across the country.
An auction would then be held to see who gets to the access rights with the 900MHz frequency which could handle up to three additional operators (O2 and Vodafone are only licensed to use it currently) while the 1800MHz frequency has O2, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange already in place but the capability to offer both GPRS and 3G.
So can we dance and sing and parade banners saying "Good Old Ofcom"? Not really, it was Ofcom which forced all these companies to only use GPRS in these spectrums in the first place.
The regulator has set a consultation deadline of November 2007 to decide its course of action, then everything should progress at a relatively swift rate. So fingers' crossed for 7.2Mbps HSDPA in the Outer Hebrides by mid '08...