Tag Archive | "auction"

4G boost coming from MoD’s spectrum sale

4G boost coming from MoD's spectrum sale

It’ll be a silent night on the Ministry of Defence’s radio frequency as part of it’s spectrum is sold off to help increase the amount available for 4G networks.

The spectrum is currently used by emergency services and transport regulators, as well as for defensive needs but the MoD reckons it has plenty to spare.

The sub-15GHz spectrum that the MoD is selling off can be used for voice networks as well as data and broadband.

Bourne again

With Ofcom currently juggling the auction that networks can bid on space to run 4G networks, any additional spectrum to add to the mobile data cause is a boon.

Networks will have the opportunity to buy the defensive spectrum but whoever nabs it won’t get a boost in the race to catch up with EE as the auction isn’t planned until summer 2014.

Ofcom’s own auction is scheduled for early 2013 after various delays.

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4G auction begins in earnest as bids submitted to Ofcom

4G auction begins in earnest as bids submitted to Ofcom

Companies hoping to secure a portion of the 4G airwaves in next year’s spectrum auction have today submitted their bids to Ofcom.

The long-delayed auction, now scheduled for March 2013, will divide up the available spectrum and allow mobile networks to press ahead with plans for UK-wide 4G LTE connectivity.

The UK’s biggest mobile operators – O2, Vodafone, EE and Three – may face competition from international rivals, private equity firms and other industries for ownership of the all-important airwaves.

All interested parties were required to submit proposals by 4pm on Tuesday, alongside a hefty deposit of £100,000, which Ofcom requested to fend off time wasters.

Ofcom, which has been heavily criticised for delaying the auction process, played up the bidding process, claiming to have ‘fired the starting gun’ on the path to a full 4G roll out.

Fired the starting gun

Ofcom said the list of bidders will not be made public for a few weeks, while Ofcom assesses the suitability of each proposal and decides whether the company moves onto the next stage of the process.

The respective companies are bidding for access to two bands. The 800MHz spectrum freed up by the analogue TV switch-off and the 2.6MHz spectrum, which will likely be used in dense urban areas.

The 4GEE network was able to launch this autumn on the 1800MHz band it converted from 2G to 4G.

“We have fired the starting gun on the 4G auction process,” said Ofcom CEO Ed Richards.

“In the past year alone, mobile internet usage has doubled. The 4G auction will release crucial capacity to support future growth, helping to boost UK productivity, innovation and drive significant improvements to mobile broadband availability across the UK.”

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UK network peace treaty will bring nationwide 4G in summer 2013

UK network peace treaty will bring nationwide 4G in summer 2013

Customers on Vodafone and O2 will be able to join EE users on 4G LTE networks by the end of summer 2013 thanks to a new peace agreement between the carriers.

Following crunch talks with culture secretary Maria Miller on Tuesday, the networks have put legal differences aside to ensure that EE cannot get too far ahead in the race for faster mobile connectivity.

EE, which owns Orange and T-Mobile, plans to launch its 4G LTE network next month and will offer next generation speeds for devices like the Apple iPhone 5 and maybe a 4G version of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The new agreement between the remaining networks comes following a failure to prevent EE getting the jump-start, and will mean the long-awaited spectrum auction can now be brought forward to January.

‘Hugely beneficial for UK’

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, had initially planned to hold the auction in February or March, but now all parties will be able to press on with establishing the infrastructure once the spectrum has been allocated.

Following the agreement, Miller, who recently took over from Jeremy Hunt as culture secretary, said: “Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy.

“I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services. The open and collaborative approach taken between the government and the mobile companies will have hugely beneficial results for UK business and investment.

“We anticipate that 4G services will boost the UK’s economy by around £2-3bn.”

Clearing TV signals

Once the spectrum has been allocated, it will be up to mast company Arqiva to clear the spectrum, which was being used for digital TV services, so it can be replaced by 4G connectivity.

Ofcom has now brought the deadline forward to May for that task to be completed. This will then enable the networks to roll out the 4G LTE networks months ahead of schedule.

O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said expressed frustration at the delay, but pointed towards the future.

“Everyone is pleased that we’ve made this progress,” he said. “it’s just a little bit frustrating that it’s taken so long. Before our various interventions we didn’t have a genuine level playing field and we risked a 4G digital divide.”

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Ofcom approves Everything Everywhere plans for 4G LTE in 2012

Ofcom approves Everything Everywhere plans for 4G LTE in 2012

Ofcom has accepted Everything Everywhere’s proposal to begin rolling-out the UK’s first full 4G LTE network before the end of 2012.

The communications regulator has backed plans by the owner of Orange and T-Mobile to convert its existing UK 1800Mhz spectrum from use as a 2G network to a fully-fledged 4G network.

That means UK smartphone and tablet owners may be able to sign-up to 4G LTE contracts before 2013 rolls around, if all goes to plan.

The likes of O2, Vodafone and Three UK now have the opportunity to appeal against the decision, but must register their grievances before April 17th.

Rubber stamp

Once Ofcom rubber stamps the proposal, EE will be free to press on with converting the spectrum and preparing the rest of its 4G LTE infrastructure for a 2013 roll-out.

In a massively detailed verdict, Ofcom concluded that the conversion would not give EE an unfair advantage over its competitors.

The report reads: “Our view is that there is no material risk of a distortion to competition as a result of liberalisation of EE’s 1800 MHz licences for LTE and WiMAX technologies.

“Indeed, it is in our view in the interests of consumers and citizens for EE’s licences to be liberalised as soon as possible.

“We are therefore proposing to agree to EE’s request to vary its 1800MHz licences to permit the deployment and use of LTE and WiMAX technology.

“Telefónica [O2] and Vodafone also hold licences for use of 1800 MHz spectrum. If we received similar licence variation requests in respect of those licences, our current view is that we would be minded to deal with them in a manner similar to our proposed approach to EE’s request.”

Inevitable challenge

It seems nailed-on that O2 and Vodafone will appeal against Ofcom’s verdict.

Those companies are still waiting on Ofcom to hold the auction for the 2.6 GHz and 800 MHz frequencies, that have been designated for 4G, before making their own plans.

That auction is unlikely to take place in the fourth quarter of 2012, while a roll-out of 4G and LTE on those spectrums would likely take a while to come to fruition after that.

As Ofcom stated above, it would be willing to listen to applications from both companies to convert some of their own 1800MHz spectrum to 4G, but Gigaom points out that both have already filled their allocation with 2G licenses.

If you’re considering a new smartphone contract in the next couple of months and you’re keen on having 4G LTE sometime during this millennium then an Orange or T-Mobile contract looks to be your best bet.

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Explained: 4G and LTE: the future of mobile broadband

Explained: 4G and LTE: the future of mobile broadband

4G mobile broadband and LTE explained

We now have a 4G-capable iPad. But what does 4G actually mean?

Today’s 3G/UMTS networks were only launched in 2003, providing the meagure mobile download speeds that many of us have to put up with today.

4G mobile broadband is its replacement, with deployment rapidly taking place in the US. However, Brits will be waiting a little while yet – read on for why.

All four major US operators now have 4G networks, with T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and AT&T now offering 4G mobile broadband alongside capable smartphones and tablets.

When will the UK get 4G?

The bad news is that ths UK is unlikely to get a sniff of a national 4G network in the UK any time soon.

Ofcom’s sale of spectrum that will carry the fourth generation licenses has been delayed until the second quarter of 2012.

The auction was originally intended to take place in the first three months of next year, but Ofcom has been unable to publish the terms of the auction due to disagreements with a number of networks.

Even if the auction takes place in the first half of 2012, we won’t see networks rolling the faster speeds out until 2013 at the earliest, putting the UK years behind some areas of the US and Japan.

“We are still aiming for the first half of next year. However, we have always maintained it is an ambitious timescale,” said an Ofcom spokesperson.

“This is a complex area, involving a large number of technical and competition issues that we need to consider and resolve before finalising proposals.

“For example, a very high proportion of households in the UK rely on Digital Terrestrial TV – Freeview – which needs to be relocated before 4G can be rolled out.”

Indeed, analysts at Informa Telecoms & Media have suggested that: “it is not economically viable to upgrade current UK mobile broadband networks to address traffic demands and improve user experience until 2015.”

But there have been trials. O2 has been testing LTE in Slough since 2009, where it achieved an impressive peak download speed of over 150Mbps.

Everything Everywhere and BT Wholesale started the first live trial of 4G LTE broadband in the UK last year, with Cornwall being used as the testbed for the next generation network. The trial used 10MHz of test 800MHz spectrum.

Everything Everywhere plans to roll-out 4G mobile internet for Orange and T-Mobile customers by the end of the year, providing it gets the green light from Ofcom.

The company has announced that a new 4G test on the 1800Mhz spectrum will commence in Bristol this April as part of its hopes to launch before the year is out.

In order to create the 4G network, it would be necessary for Ofcom to allow EE to convert some of its existing 1800Mhz spectrum license from 3G to 4G use. The regulator says it is considering the offer.

4G iPad band

The new iPad is designed to work across the spectrum band of 700-2100Mhz. While some trials in the UK have been outside this, the Everything Everwhere Bristol test will be within this.

4G download speeds

There are two standards that have been part of 4G – LTE and WiMAX, though LTE is now taking over as the dominant force.

4G would provide cited download speeds in excess of 100Mbps and upload rates over and above 50Mbps.

If these numbers eventually hold up (pinches of salt at the ready…), future LTE mobile devices could enjoy 5-6 times the performance of 3G with HSPA. In a Nokia trial, LTE set a cellular data record of 173Mbps in 2008. That’s seriously fast.

This dramatic speed boost comes courtesy of OFDM (Orthoganal Frequency Division Multiplexing), the same transmission technology used by ADSL, Wi-Fi, DVB-T, DVB-H and DAB. OFDM not only reduces latency, but minimises interference and can cram more data into the same slice of radio bandwidth. It will make LTE/4G phones ideal for streaming video and online gaming.

Because LTE is data-focused, not voice focused like 3G, it also employs the same TCP/IP protocols that underpin modern networking and Internet protocols. Once services begin to be deployed, voice traffic will be shifted from GSM to Voice over IP (VoIP), enabling your calls to be integrated with multimedia and web services.

Further speed increases are also possible with the addition of MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology. The idea of having multiple antennas on transmitters and receivers is already used to great effect in 802.11n Wi-Fi gear.

Nokia’s 173Mbps trial used MIMO in a 2×2 configuration (ie two antennas on both the transmitter and receiver). A 4×4 MIMO setup could potentially deliver wireless 4G broadband speeds of 326.4 Mbps.

Of course, you’re unlikely to see anything like the maximum LTE data rate in practice. Peak speeds of around 25Mbps have been reported on Verizon’s 700MHz US network, with average speeds around half that figure. But that’s still about 3-4 times faster than current 3G connections. And the technology will get faster over time.

Sadly, we might have to wait a couple of years for LTE mobile phones to appear in the UK. But being late to the 4G party will have its advantages.

UK early adopters won’t face the crushing disappointment of buying poor hardware. So we won’t have to endure the 4G equivalent of the NEC e606. This early 3G hardware certainly deserves its place in history, but it was a god-awful phone.

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