Ofcom has been taking a long, hard look at why some areas of the country don't have mobile coverage, and reached the shock conclusion that it's 'cos no one lives there. Not that the regulator jumped straight to such a decision. First it commissioned a 61-page report from PA (pdf) to examine the issues around not-spots, and then …
Ironically it's when you're trundling up those wonderful single track roads, through glorious scenery of the north-west coast of Scotland, you get a problem with your motor and the only thing you can see for 10 miles is a small shack being used as a wind break by some sheep, that's when you could really do with a mobile signal!
Is that to call your mates over or to get your car fixed?
A fellow Land Rover owner then?
If they build, they will come
Alleged coverage not the only issue
All the operators have our village as good 3G coverage. That doesn't mean it works though. Everyone who lives here knows that Orange, T-mobile and 3 don't work.
You can still get crap reception
In pretty well populated areas.
Mobile won't ever be Broadband, though. Not economical at £45K to £300K to build enough base stations for the capacity.
Voice only needs 12kbps.
Arse about face
They only build 3G where people use it? So how do people use it before they build it?
"make the provision of national coverage part of a licence obligation. "
"make the provision of licenced coverage part of a licence obligation. "
Why not indeed.
If the provision of coverage as per the granted licence within some reasonable time was actually required as part of the privilege of retaining the licence, the UK might actually have a nationwide set of proper fixed wireless access broadband networks by now.
Even if we didn't have such a set of networks, at least the licences wouldn't still all be in PCCW's hands, so if anyone else did want to have a go, they'd be able to apply for a licence.
Ofcon. What are they for, exactly?
If the same logic - deliver the service as per the licence obligation, or lose the licence - also applied to commercial radio, we wouldn't have identical Heart FM stations replacing the former "local" commercial stations from one end of the country to the other. But Ofcon don't seem to be able to cope with the concept of enforcing licence conditions else revoking the licence.
Ofcon certainly don't seem to be able to cope with the concept that there's little strategic value in having many competing broadband networks in some profitable places whilst a barely-regulated monopolist is left to service (or ignore) the less profitable ones. Same goes for mobile networks too, except there's no single monopolist.
Ofcon. What are they for, exactly?
Re: "make the provision of national coverage part of a licence obligation. "
I see what you did there!
Australia's in a worse position.
We a have a great deal of absolutely nothing inbetween whatever you could call something.
Only the larger/more frequented roads inbetween "something" are covered with GSM, and chunks of those aren't covered with 3G.
Telstra (one of our carriers) claims the most coverage with NextG (a specific flavour of not-quite-standard-off-the-shelf-3G) that only they offer.
So if you want coverage, and do not want to be tied into one carrier, your only choice is GSM.
So much for moving forward.
Making provision of national coverage part of a licence obligation
Ofcom already did this with the 3G licences, requiring 80% population coverage by a certain date, which O2 missed and was threatened with a hefty fine. Just a shame that Ofcom stopped at 80%.
Another wedge of cash for the consultants ...
"... concludes that operators aren't building out 2G coverage anymore and that they only build 3G networks where there are customers to use them.
That might sound obvious, it certainly does to us."
What another waste of money by Ofcom. Let's see - we have commercial companies who have a duty to make money for their shareholders. They have a choice to deploy a site or not, so what criteria do they use? Big surprise - does it make money or not. (Perhaps Ofcom expects Tesco to open a store in the middle of nowhere just in case somebody might need it someday.)
Why pay anyone to find an answer to that, and all the consultants do is go and ask the operators? I could do just as well at a fraction of the cost with a research project using a bunch of students.
I'm sure there are a few sites that do not recover their cost e.g. the ones in the houses of all of the directors and other 'VIPs', but these are strategic (or so they say).
Otherwise it's down to the business case and even 'inability to get planning permission' is just resolved by financial analysis - is there an alternative site that we can use that brings in enough money.
Re AC 5th November 2010 14:23, the article says "they only build 3G networks where there are [potential] customers to use them" i.e. there is no point building in areas where there are not enough customers to make a financial return. A similar criteria is used to decide on DSL unbundling.
Need some rules to force operators to build some masts in low density poulation area. Then the important bit : force the other operators to contribute a percentage of the build costs.
OR : government upfronts the build costs, and charges operators a few pence on every call. Make the one mast open to all operators.
Now there's a worthwhile spending plan. Help local employment and pump money into the economy at the same time.
Too sensible I suppose ...