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back to article Everything Everywhere grabs UK 4G wheel, rivals thrown off bus

Everything Everywhere will be allowed to deploy 4G this year, at 1800MHz, while the other UK operators will just have to stand in line for next year's auction. That might sound anti-competitive, but Ofcom reckons that any first-mover advantage will be short-lived and that the benefits of getting 4G deployed outweigh the …

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Anonymous Coward

So can we look forward to Monopoloist Pricing?

would be about par for the course.

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Flame

Re: So can we look forward to Monopoloist Pricing?

<shrug> just dont buy it then. For most people if you have a decent EE signal now then I imagine HSDPA is good enough. 4G wont bring an amazing amount to the table unless you plan on getting rid of wired broadband. for the price I cant see why you would bother (data caps ahoy).

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WTF?

Sly poke

..in the eye for Vod and o2 who are fighting tooth and nail to keep the 2g spectrum they were awarded for free?

However not sure that the Regulator using an accident of logistics and business to define the initial 4G landscape is very professional.

Surely most of the progress towards a 4g auction could be solved by getting the respective network heads all in a room together and hammering out a deal?

Oh I forgot - its not about effecient use of spectrum its about a Quango justifying its existence.

I would say its also about maximising revenue from that spectrum for the Govt and Taxpayers, but they are making such a hash of it the concept is laughable.

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Mushroom

Re: Sly poke

They have tried to get them all in a room and bang their heads together tactic - it just hasn't worked. I've worked with guys in OFCOM and they're a good bunch - they don't deserve the cynical posts suggesting they're not trying their best to sort this out. The legacy problems with the way that spectrum ownership has played out mean that each company has far more incentive to block an auction that doesn't suit them than play nice for the public good. Hence Ed Richards not so veiled threat to ask for legislation if they keep playing silly buggers.

Right commentards - if you can think of a better way to run the auction that will avoid litigation from any of the networks I'm sure that Ofcom would love to hear from you. Somehow, I doubt any of you have any better ideas.

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Re: Sly poke

"I've worked with guys in OFCOM and they're a good bunch"

I'm sure they are. I've worked with lots of people who are very nice but basically aren't very good at their job - some are incompetent. Its the nature of publically funded organisations - for every decent person you get in, you'll get at least one who got the job because of who they knew.

Ofcom are crap. The last time they were even halfway decent is over 10 years ago. NuLab put their buddies in at the top and it went to shit.

tl;dr "good bunch" doesn't mean "competent to do the job".

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Re: Sly poke

@John Naismith

No suggestion of how to do it better I note though. If they're doing it wrong, how would you do it better (hint - this is a bit like the Kobayashi Maru)?

When I said good, I meant 'good at their jobs'. There are lots of bits to Ofcom - incompetence in one part != incompetence in all parts

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MJI
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Quite a large amount

And a lot of it is in the broadcast spectrum.

30MHz is about 6 digital TV multiplexes.

Just do not sell off the 400-790THz band

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Boffin

Re: Quite a large amount

I think 400-790 TeraHertz is safe for a while.

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400-790THz

Nah, this band would create too much interference if used for mobile applications. I've seen some experimental work being done within this band for point to point links, and while it works here for some applications, it has problems with rainfall and fog limiting range see http://ronja.twibright.com/ . For communications this band tends to work best contained within optic fibre waveguides.

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Re: Quite a large amount

TV bandwidth is allocated in blocks of 8MHz over here, so 30MHz is a little over 4 multiplexes, not 6.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 400-790THz

Sorry but one of the outcomes from the World Radio Conference WRC-12 was that there was agreed a last-minute proposal from participants from Africa and the Middle East, for the introduction of mobile services in the frequencies from 694-790 MHz which had been allocated to broadcast services on a primary basis. By doing so, Region 1, which comprises countries in Africa, Europe and parts of Asia, will harmonise the use of the 700 MHz band with other Regions of the world after 2015.

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Wow... I'm stunned!

While I don't think this is necessarily the best way to go about getting 4G rolling in the UK, the best options have been and gone and the operators have bitched and whinged about them. This will at least make the mobile network operators all sit up and take notice.

In the mean time we get the ball rolling on 4G, we might see some of the 4G handsets that haven't made it here for the past few years...

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Alert

Re: Wow... I'm stunned!

The Daily Wail are already saying the new iPad will work on EE's network:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2114388/4G-mobile-phone-network-used-turbo-charge-iPad-3-available-UK-year.html

Funny that they never let the facts get in the way of a story...

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Well, my personal phone is T-Mobile and my work phone is Orange. Roll on the good times!

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But since you're on Orange and T-Mobile, you won't have enough signal to notice any difference.

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FAIL

Sorry about this....

...but the word clusterf*ck comes to mind.

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enforced roaming agreements?

Maybe Ofcom could be persuaded to require EE to offer cost price roaming for the monopoly duration. Unfortunately I doubt they could force the other networks to take advantage... but silly me, thinking Ofcom is there to protect my interests ;)

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Re: enforced roaming agreements?

oh come on... your tax money being taken to protect you? dont be silly!!! its to protect globomegacorp who pay no tax

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Joke

Dear Ofcom

haaa hee haaa hee.

Love

EE

x

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@Paul Shirley

They should force cut price roaming on every band, not just 4G. But as you said that is in the consumer's interest and not in the companies interest.

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WTF?

Frequencies

Not sure how deploying LTE on a frequency band that no-one else is using WORLDWIDE is in any way advantageous to EE or OFCOM. Unless LTE chipsets are made that work on multiple frequency bands, any LTE device will only work at the 1800MHz band and be effectively useless for other carriers or even roaming (although I'm not sure who'd want to pay data rates for roaming LTE).

I'm sure the operators would love this as they can sell you a nice shiny widget that only works on their networks and ties you further to them and stops you wandering off to the competition, even when your contract is up (unless you fork out for a brand new shiny widget).

We need a joined up solution here which works across multiple operators and countries, else the costs are going to be excessive. Not only for carriers which will need gear that only they can use, but also for the public as we're losing volume discounting on the chipsets in the handsets. One chip for 1800MHz EE, another for Vodafone, another for O2, etc. Plus different antenna designs in the handsets will likely be needed for the different frequencies.

I guess I live in some fantasy land where such thinking is possible.

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Boffin

Re: Frequencies

Just for the record, Telstra has a production LTE 1800MHz network here in Australia, so it is incorrect to state that nobody else worldwide.is using that band.

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Re: Frequencies

"Not sure how deploying LTE on a frequency band that no-one else is using WORLDWIDE is in any way advantageous to EE or OFCOM. Unless LTE chipsets are made that work on multiple frequency bands, any LTE device will only work at the 1800MHz band and be effectively useless for other carriers or even roaming (although I'm not sure who'd want to pay data rates for roaming LTE)."

LTE is already up and running on 1800Mhz in Oz...

http://www.ericsson.com/news/110530_telstra_switches_on_first_lte_network_244188810_c

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Re: Frequencies

Erm maybe the fact that if you don't have a LTE network you will still have both 3G and 2g to fallback on kinda means 1800 not being a world wide band is a big deal in the short-medium term. Besides which no-one in their right mind who pays their own bills is going to be interested in paying the extortionate rates that 4g roaming will be at.

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Trollface

Re: Frequencies

http://www.telecoms.com/30086/lte1800-lte-deployments-in-1800mhz-band/

As you said: "I guess I live in some fantasy land", fantasy land where no one uses 1800...

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Anonymous Coward

The ironic thing about charging the mobile companies to use the spectrum is that it is effectively a tax on you and me as we then pay higher prices for our mobile contracts / broadband as a result.

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How fragmented is the LTE spectrum?

I wanted to see how badly fragmented the LTE spectrum was and so came up with some pictures rather than the usual unreadable tables you see.

FDD is not good. TDD however looks well organised and well planned - wonder why.

http://anly.tk/2012/03/09/visual-representation-of-lte-spectrum-bands/

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Ofcom should do one other thing

In return for allowing EE to use this band for LTE right now, Ofcom should also bring forward the requirement that EE sell of the 20MHz (or possibly the full 30MHz) it is obliged to sell as a consequence of the merger *at once*. That way, if it turns out that there is value in building an LTE network at 1800MHz right now, one of EE's competitors can buy this spectrum, build an LTE network at 1800MHz too, and there will be no monopoly. If there is no value then this might not happen, but allowing for the possibility is a good idea.

As to the frequencies, the story in the GSM world is approximately this:

GSM 2G spectrum was initially allocated at 900MHz, and then more was allocated at 1800MHz shortly afterwards to allow additional networks. (In the UK, O2 and Vodafone got the 900MHz and T-Mobile and Orange the 1800MHz. Even before merging, they had unusually large allocations, as in most other countries the 900MHz operators have been given more 1800MHz as well, and/or the 1800MHz spectrum is split between more than three operators).

UMTS 3G spectrum was allocated at 2100MHz, and virtually every GSM operator in the world got an allocation at 2100MHz and built a 3G network there. At the same time, 2600MHz was designated as a "3G relief band", to be used for more 3G services when 2100MHz ran out.

However, operators preferred to use lower frequencies for additional 3G services, as base-stations have longer range at lower frequencies, and these lower frequencies work better in rural areas. Therefore, operators either refarmed some of the 900MHz 2G spectrum for 3G, or in countries where the 850MHz band was still allocated from analogue services or was being used for CDMA, they built additional 3G networks here. It was helpful that this was one of the primary bands used for 3G in the US, as it meant that lots of hardware was already available. (850MHz only is allocated in the US, 900MHz only is allocated in Europe, and *both bands* are allocated in much of the rest of the world).

The 1800MHz band was neglected for 3G, however, as it was not as useful as 850MHz or 900MHz. And the 2600MHz band was not generally allocated for additional 3G services, although that was the original plan. However, as of 2012, demand for 2G GSM services is winding down as it is old technology. 850MHz (non-Europe), 900MHz, and 2100MHz is very busy, so 1800MHz and 2600MHz are obvious places to put LTE. (Other bands being allocated due to switching off analogue TV is rather wishy washy, inconsistent in different places, and is going to take time). As a commenter above said, there is already 1800MHz LTE in Australia, and I personally think this is going to end up being one of the most common places where we are going to find it. EE need to get a move on here, as they can gain a competitive advantage by doing this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ofcom should do one other thing

tl;dr

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About time someone did something

To get the ball rolling. I'd certainly be in the market for a 4G dongle if it and the services that come with it are'nt excessively priced.

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Mushroom

Scandal of 2011...

The great scandal of 2011 was O2 and Vodafone being allowed to "help themselves" to extra 3G carriers on 900Mhz without coughing up another 5 Billion pounds to the treasury.

With EE using their own 1800Mhz for LTE.... I think this just about puts EE and Voda/O2 on an equal footing now ?

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Re: Scandal of 2011...

Agree it should have been contingent on agreeing to the 4g spectrum auction.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scandal of 2011...

"help themselves" ??? They already had the spectrum, they are just re-organising their use of it.

That's like saying I can "help myself" to sitting out in my garden, or lying on it instead of just looking at it. I can't do both at once, so I have to choose. So the operators move users from 1 technology to another by selling them a new device, but whatever the device the user pays the same fee and uses 'the same' spectrum. But the operators have to fork out on a shiny new device too, a new RBS to make the new carrier work, so they're hardly getting a free ride.

26 years ago the 2 operators took a punt on something brand new that might have fallen flat. I'd say that counts as entrepreneurship being rewarded, rather thasn being a follower of a proven business model. 8 years later, the EE parents figured that there was something worth getting into in the UK and have to rue not taking a risk earlier.

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First things first

Forget LTE - how about a decent, widely available 3G signal on EE first?

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Unhappy

Some 2G would be nice out here in the sticks

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Anonymous Coward

I thought that the reason for Orange and T-mobile to merge their operations here was to achieve various savings, such as (I would have imagined) decommissioning of some duplicated and therefore redundant cell sites where this would not affect capacity.

Instead, do we have what Baldrick might have described as a cunning plan, if he'd been clever enough to realise how cunning it might be?

Will there be areas where Orange and T-mobile sites are producing simultaneous 2g and 4g signals at 1800 MHz, one on each network, with roaming between them?

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