Our recent opinion piece on the possible takeover of T-Mobile by Vodafone generated considerable comment. Given the strength of feeling, we thought we'd present some of our thinking. The piece was intended to present an argument that spectrum ownership was key in understanding why Vodafone, or anyone else, would be interested in …
Why does each network have its own network of masts, as opposed to sharing this infrastructure?
This particular form of competition is a madness only just short of Ford, Honda and Nissan each having its own private network of roads, to take an analogy.
Surprised that you think T-Mobile coverage is good in the Highlands and Islands. Just had a look at their map, there seems to no coverage on the A82 up over Glencoe whereas Vodafone and O2 have complete coverage over the route from what I remember. Other routes are similarly not covered.
They might have coverage in most larger towns but a lot of gaps in between.
Some years ago the company that I worked for put all the company mobile phones on T-Mobile, we protested because the coverage was so poor and kept our existing phones on Vodafone.
Ofcom for the chop though?
Come the next general election haven't the Conservatives already announced they will neuter Ofcom's policy making powers? Isn't predicting past 2010 & Voda etc.'s plans a little premature?
900 or 1800
All I know is that Vodafone penetrates Edinburgh tenement buildings and O2 doesn't. Tradesmen take calls in the stree not the house if they are on O2; on Vodafone they don't get wet. I had hoped it would have got better, but my new iPhone only gets a signal near the window.
T-Mobile's Streetcheck service lies like a rug - I used it to check four key locations (all in major cities) before I switched to T-Mobile last year, and in spite of its firm assurance that they had excellent signal quality, three of the four are poor at best for 3G, and in one I can barely get a 2G signal at all!
@ Nick Kew
Bastard. I was gonna say that.
I was going to expand a bit, tho and point out that TV transmission in the UK for all channels has been via transmitting stations owned and managed by Crown House, which is now owned by Arqiva, which was formed by National Grid Wireless (originally the UK subsidiary of Crown Castle) combining with Arqiva (formerly NTL Broadcast) in September 2008.
So, why the blazes don't we just get one aerial per area, rather than multiple aerials and muletple planning spats.
O2 have recently had their collective testicles kicked over erecting yet another an aerial near me, without proper consent. They have to get it down by Feb 2010.
"Why does each network have its own network of masts, as opposed to sharing this infrastructure?"
Because the radio planners working at different frequencies (for different operators, with different product specs) will come up with a different mast distribution to achieve coverage. 900MHz sites generally have more coverage than 1800MHz - so it's particularly desirable radio real-estate
I have literally just had to switch back to Vodafone from T-Mobile for one reason and one reason alone. T-Mobile coverage around here just isn't sufficient.
(Scale = 0-5)
At Home (Built-up area) - V:5, T:3
At Work (Central Sheffield) - V:5, T:4
At local rural Royal Mail office - V:5, T:0
At new home in rural village not far from large town - V:5, T:1
At relative's home in Lincoln centre: V:3, T:0
These locations span South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire and in ALL cases, T-Mobile has between 0 and sufficient signal, Vodafone has from sufficient to perfect.
For me it's a no brainer. I went to T-Mobile initially because Vodafone wouldn't let me change package and keep my number, but they'd let me port it out to another network and T-Mobile was the best choice at the time financially, but since I'm moving house and there is *0* T-Mobile signal, it's back to Vodafone where I know I will get signal wherever I need it.
Last summer I only used to be able to get a signal on 3 in Oban. As of about October I now get it all around Argyll - A82 through Glencoe and out to Acharacle in the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Is that the result of 3 and T-mobile being friendly, or just 3 getting a grip? Either way, I'm quite pleased at the increase, since the 3 tariff is bearable.
I have it in the back of my mind, that under the terms of the GSM licenses, the operators couldn't share any infrastructure at all. With 3G, OFCOM (or whoever) relaxed the regs, and allowed the operators to share masts. I think this was done to lower the cost barrier to new players, and entice them to bid for the spectrum. I even seem to remember a company sprang up to sell mast space and make life easier for the operators (by sorting out planning permission, etc)
However, this could all be the result of a dream I once had.
Paris: 'Cause none of the stuff I've done with her has been a dream...
T-Mobile coverage, you're asking?
Although I'm not too happy about T-Mobile's being possibly taken down from the UK market, I think Vodafone taking it over would be the best option of all. But anyhow, time will tell.
In regards to T-Mobile's coverage, I've seen my phone (E71 on T-Mobile's contract) without a signal in the Nokia Flagship Store (!) at Regent Street and couple of other indoor locations around Oxford Circus. It's not a brainer that 1800 spectrum is somewhat fussy in terms of providing solid indoor coverage, unless network is really dense, but that is not always the case with T-Mobile. While I generally don't like O2 (just don't, but still better than Orange!), I like their strategy of building quite dense network of microcells in town centres, and Voda does that too, but T-Mobile - well, rather rarely, at least from my observation.
I am also commuting regularly on Piccadilly Line between Heathrow and Central London, heavily using (or at least trying to) web'n'walk on my phone. There are few dead spots, that I wrote a piece about and sent out to CS a while ago (vide: http://adl.pl/tmobile_coverage.phtml), but as you would expect - no thank yous directly from RF departments were received, just a plain, automated CRM's reply from CS. Btw, Voda's coverage on that track is *way* better than T-Mobile's (this is where 900 spectrum kicks in, really).
Oh, and StreetCheck. Who actually believes in such things? These are usually useless, marketing tools to show how great we are. Go figure if you get a decent coverage within Nokia Flagship Store in the middle of London, using StreetCheck facility...
What about 4G?
I was under the belief that the 4G network to come next only worked in the 900MHz spectrum? And hense the requirement for operators not in the 900MHz spectrum wanting some was to future proof themselves?
But then i may just be talking a load of c**p
Further to the comment about coverage in Scotland, try looking at Aberdeenshire, the coverage there is very poor.
1800MHz Coverage in the North
I'm from the NE and I was one of the first to go to one2one when they came into our area. I have never had 1800MHz coverage issues and in many cases I found one2one/T-Mo better than Orange.
900 vs 1800
Look, it doesn't matter what someone's "website" says (it's probably some form of spin-bollocks anyway). 900Mhz networks will give better penetration into and around buildings: reflections will give you still more coverage as the 900MHz band carrier will simply carry further. 1800 band was originally supposed to be urban: to fill in gaps with lower powered transmitters (the phones themselves are lower power classed in the 1800 band).
No amount of giggery-pokery with clever coding schemes and spreading factors (in WCDMA) will compensate for not getting any bloody signal at all. Which is why I'm still using (and getting shafted by) vodafone after 10 years and don't use 3G unless I'm a) stationary and b) need to do anything related to data transfer. I won't change networks as Voda is the oldest, with the best coverage.
I should say - I spent 7 years doing various forms of 2G/2.5G/3G protocol testing for a major handset manufacturer, that's where my opinions are coming from... :-)
Thumbs down for 1800Mhz and 2.1GHz as I want to be contactable and don't care if it's using an old standard!!!
If Virgin Media are piggy-backing off T-Mobile, wouldn't they be in the mix to buy at least some of T-Mobile? Yes, I know they're saddled with £500 quadrillion of debt, but stil...
"But then i may just be talking a load of c**p"
yep, you are :)
LTE (will) work(s) in all GSM & UMTS frequencies, plus a bunch of others (700MHz in the USA springs to mind)
is currently not working with data traffic...
Vodafone and O2 already have some 1800Mhz spectrum
Vodafone and O2 already have some 1800Mhz spectrum. They've had it since the days when O2 were called Cellnet.
C'mon admit you are wrong
The commentards still think the reportard is writing reporturds.
As the networks used to compete on coverage but as most of the UK has now been covered it has switched to tariffs alone.
Deviating slightly from the topic but hopefully somebody can advice me why there is no network sharing with Femtocells. Have a works mobile on Orange and personal one on Vodafone, coverage where I live is poor to non existent on both networks. Looked at the Vodafone Access Gateway(Femtocell) but on checking will only work with Vodafone registered handsets, so if I go this route would need two femtocells to resolve??? the problem. Ignore initially the fact that like roaming the networks will charge over the odds, is it feasible to set a femtocell up to cover more than one network. If it isn't then I fail to see the long term benefits for them in homes or managed offices, which is where they seem to be targeted? Can anybody help a baffled consumer.
900 vs 1800
Andy Watt's absolutely correct. This is all down to physics; 900 has a longer wavelength than 1800 so carries further and penetrates better. I used to work for the magenta people and the techies there deluded themselves by constantly 'drive testing'. Get real! Normal people, without pointy heads, want in-building coverage (especially for mobile broadband which is the great hope for the networks' declining voice revenues) and 1800 just doesn't cut it.
With 1800 you simply need more masts to get the same coverage & quality than you do with 900 so highlands, islands and indoors suffer.
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