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A number of UK internet service providers (ISPs) could benefit after Ofcom cleared the way for mobile operators to trade spectrum.

Up until now, mobile broadband providers have been prohibited from trading wireless network licences in the 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz spectrum bands.

As a consequence, some ISPS have struggled to obtain the spectrum they require, while others have had access to more spectrum than they require.

The government set the wheels of change in motion last October by instructing Ofcom to make spectrum tradable, enabling mobile broadband providers to respond more effectively to demands placed on their networks.

The increase in data traffic seen in recent years, as dongles have become more popular and media tablets have entered the market, has applied further pressure on some frequency bands.

And by giving ISPs the opportunity to form their own agreements over spectrum access, Ofcom hopes that mobile broadband speeds and reliability can be improved across the UK.

The media regulator explained that the more spectrum an ISP holds, the more telephone conversations and internet traffic it can carry.

"Not all operators hold the same amount of spectrum, and the level of demand for mobile services also differs from area to area," Ofcom added.

"By allowing operators to trade their spectrum, Ofcom believes there will be greater opportunity to use it more efficiently. Ultimately, it is believed that this will bring benefits to citizens and consumers in terms of improved mobile services."

But with the UK's 4G spectrum auction upcoming, it remains to be seen whether ISPs choose to enter into negotiation over the transfer of their existing share.

ISPs may prefer to focus on preparing strong bids for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz auctions, rather than attempt to bolster their existing 3G networks in the short term.

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