Last May we reported on the UK’s first multi-operator ‘superfast 4G mobile broadband’ customer trials, which eventually kicked-off in Cornwall in October.

Everything Everywhere, the parent company of Orange and T-Mobile, and BT Wholesale later announced that the pilot project will be extended to the end of June 2012, and with O2 switching on London’s first 4G mobile network back in November, this teased even more users with a glimpse into what the future may hold: superfast mobile broadband on tap.

Whilst it was initially feared that 4G wouldn’t be widely available in the UK until at least 2013, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has revealed that 4G mobile services could be available in the UK later this year.

“Everything Everywhere has submitted an application to Ofcom to use its existing spectrum to deliver 4G services,” says Ofcom. “Allowing Everything Everywhere to reuse its spectrum in this way is likely to bring material benefits to consumers, including faster mobile broadband speeds and – depending on how Everything Everywhere uses the spectrum – potentially wider mobile broadband coverage in rural areas.”

In considering whether allowing Everything Everywhere to use the spectrum in this way would distort competition in the build up to the 4G spectrum auction scheduled to take place later this year, Ofcom ruled that it wouldn’t. “Given the benefits this would bring to consumers, Ofcom is minded to allow this change of use,” it says. Interested parties have four weeks in which to submit their views on this proposed change.

With the proliferation of smartphones, Ofcom has previously said that demand for mobile data in Western Europe could increase by more than 500% over the next five years, with video-streaming, online mapping, social networking and other data-sapping Web-browsing activity requiring faster mobile broadband.

The term 4G is generally used to refer to mobile broadband services delivered using the next generation of mobile broadband technologies including Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMAX.