Ofcom has announced that it will allow mobile networks to trade off the rights to the radio spectrum that it owns, meaning that operators with a greater need for spectrum can pay a premium to operators who need it less.

The spectrum up for grabs fall into the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands and the idea is to help "to increase mobile network capacity and deliver faster and more reliable mobile services for consumers".

In the UK, the operators all have access to certain blocks of spectrum that it uses for its traffic (calls, texts and web access). Some operators have more, some have less and some, Ofcom hopes, have more than they need.

"By allowing operators to trade their spectrum, Ofcom believes that there will be greater opportunity to use it more efficiently," read the official statement.

"Ultimately, it is believed that this will bring benefits to citizens and consumers in terms of improved mobile services"

The move was ordered by the government at the end of last year, and now Ofcom has put the measures in place - it will oversee any trading and make sure that competition isn't distorted.

A Three spokesman didn't sound too keen on the move though, telling Pocket-lint: "Spectrum is the lifeblood of smartphones and the mobile internet and for those with surplus holdings it is also a strategic asset, so voluntary trading is the exception. This move simply allows those who have been gifted access to public spectrum to profit from it, with no benefit for UK taxpayers.

"Ofcom’s ambition to deliver faster and more capable services to consumers is best served by a truly competitive allocation of this public asset.”