The UK’s communications watchdog has given wireless broadband operator, UK Broadband, the go ahead to connect to mobile devices using WiMAX technology.

UK Broadband, which operates under the ‘now’ brand as a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s PCCW, acquired a nationwide 3.5GHz licence in 2004. It subsequently launched wireless broadband services based on UMTS-TDD (TD-CDMA) in a few cities around London but still has very limited coverage.

In fact, the company was dogged by rumours of a sale during the summer, after reports that the company was failing to compete effectively against its fixed line rivals. Critics have said the service is severely hampered by limited speeds – 1Mbps is the fastest on offer, which even undermines the fact its wireless, never mind the uncompetitive price of £14 per month.

So Ofcom’s decision to amend the provider’s licence could be a turning point for UK Broadband. Changes to the licence will allow the company to offer internet connections to portable or mobile devices as well as to fixed locations across the UK as well as making it technology and application neutral.

This effectively paves the way for a rollout of Mobile WiMAX by UK Broadband.

“Ofcom believes that removing restrictions on the licensee will benefit consumers, encourage competition, optimise use of the spectrum and is therefore in the interests of citizens and consumers. Ofcom also believes that the likelihood of interference to other users is low,” the watchdog said.