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back to article UK 4G auction: No word on what will be flogged, or what it costs

Last week the Ofcom announced details of the upcoming 4G spectrum auction, only the regulator still can't say how much spectrum is on sale, what it will cost, or the annual rent due afterwards. The mega-auction announced last week includes bands at 800MHz, which've been cleared of analogue TV, and at 2.6GHz, which has been empty …

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Boffin

Legal Aid

Whatever Ofcom decides I'm sure the Networks Lawyers will be kept busy.

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Meh

Expect it

Expect it to be expensive and expect it to be late.

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LTE

So these LTE phones at 2.6GHz and 800MHz are they ready to go? What about 1800MHz?

Are LTE phones comparable in terms of weight and battery life as 3G phones or is this going to be like when 3G phones first came out? I don't want to go back to a time when phones were huge with batteries that only lasted a day and were full of features you didn't want to use ... wait a minute.

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Re: LTE

If you look at LTE phones in use in the USA they tend to be massive battery hogs. It's 3G all over again...

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HMB
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Behind the US and not moving...

Go google for speedtest demos over US LTE networks. 15 Mbps down and 7.5 Mbps up is the lower end with some running at 30/15 and higher.

I can't believe how amazingly behind we are now in terms of the latest technologies. I just have to conclude that Ofcom is a big, ineffective machine that eats money and produces results with the speed of a lethargic snail.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Behind the US and not moving...

On the money HMB.

Ofcom care only about robbing everyone and are worse than low life estate agents.

The reason why Ofcom are so slow is that they've sacked anyone with any useful technical ability.

Paris Hilton angle? = Paris could run Ofcom better than the spotty yoofs that are screwing it up now.

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Re: Behind the US and not moving...

"Paris could run Ofcom better than the spotty yoofs that are screwing it up now."

I think that you are being harsh on spotty yoofs. OFCOM is run by Blair's placemen, City grandees, and jumped up former civil servants - look at the board's biographies and salaries if you have any doubt. The 1% have control, and they are acting in their own interests, as usual.

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Boffin

Use of radio spectrum in mobile technology

I do not understand the logic behind current spectrum use. For instance, LTE (4G) now has the option of using 800Mhz (not the same as 850Mhz as GSM/3G uses), 1800Mhz and 2600Mhz. GSM has in Europe only 900/1800Mhz. At the same time 3G has only 900/2100Mhz in Europe. The amount of spectrum allocated to LTE is interesting in this terms. But the mobile bubble is going to go bust soon or move over to short range WLAN in terms of data and speed (802.11n offers at minimum 150Mbps over air. But 300Mbps is common today). The move over to WLAN means the bubble is going to pop for mobile network companies in terms of data usage.

It is also a fact that GSM is still in full use today. So today we have 2G, 3G and LTE (technical 3.9G but they call it 4G). If they want to free up spectrum. They should start by cleaning up 900Mhz of 2G and move it to 1800Mhz while it is still in use. But the limit is that 2G in areas where population is limited is better off using 900Mhz.

Both technical standards and spectrum wise the mobile service and industry is getting it self into a whole a lot of problems by not dropping 2G orderly and in decent way. It should have started to do so years ago. But has not done so yet and that is evolving into a big problem.

As for myself. I am going to use 2G on my mobile phones for the next 2 - 3 years. As 3G coverage is still lacking in many areas. In some areas it is none at all. This applies mostly to Iceland, where I am from. But most of Iceland has no 3G coverage from Vodafone/Nova. Síminn has better 3G coverage in part of Iceland. But it still full of holes and no coverage areas. When it comes down to it. The failure of 3G is lack of coverage and over demand to use it as broadband service. Rather then to use it as voice and data service for mobile phones. As it was intended originally I suspect.

Where I live in Denmark 3G coverage seems to be decent (I use Telia DK. I also roam into Telia DK with my Icelandic phones). But with holes in it (some large). It is also a problem that 3G bandwidth has been oversold to mobile broadband (slow and expensive) in Denmark. This comes down on voice quality on mobile phones during peak hours. But with LTE being rolled out in Denmark that might change with time. This pattern is going to be repeated with elsewhere, including in the UK in my view.

I can only use examples that I know of. Those are from Iceland and Denmark at this point. I do roam into GSM/3G when I go to Germany. But that is not so often I do so properly and for long period of time.

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Competition isn't always good.

Surely the answer is to make them all sell their towers and frequencies and create a single Network Rail type organisation. It would remove duplication and would see new technology introduced much quicker. The same goes for fixed line telecommunications - in fact it could be the same organisation which would then lead to even more benefits.

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Lack of Competition isn't always good.

Why don't we nationalise it while we're at it!

The operators, sorry service wholesalers, make their money from shiny looking propositions, so creating one enormous wholesale infrastructure would be a margin business ripe for regulation.

In that kind of climate I would be very surprised if the required amount of capital were to be available to introduce new technology at a rapid pace, as the VC investment would only be repayable at the margin, i.e. very difficult to generate an attractive return on a colossal investment.

Network sharing deals between the current operators would seem to indicate that four sets of infrastructure aren't particularly sustainable either, and OfCom forcing that point distorts the industry as well.

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Re: Competition isn't always good.

"Surely the answer is to make them all sell their towers and frequencies and create a single Network Rail type organisation"

You took inspiration for this idea from the success of Openreach in fixed line, who have quickly rolled out universal national broadband at low cost, with matchless customer service and widespread acclaim?

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Re: Competition isn't always good.

I don't think merging all network intrafructure into one company is the best idea. I do, however, think that all the networks should be forced into a sharing agreement, whereby if you can't get a signal from your network but you can from another, you use the other at no extra charge. The differences in coverage can be astonishing, and it would prevent needless extra spending on infrastructure. e.g. The net's could then get together (lol) and divide up all the blackspots between them to deploy to, gaining us universal coverage.

This would also be what I would do with EE and LTE@1800: Let them do it, but force them to allow other operators to use it until they have a chance to build their own.

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Windows

Who buys something without knowing what it actually IS???

Here in Finland, one carrier (Sonera) is offering 4G.

How nice. 1gigabit if you're static. Lovely jubbly. Well, that's the specification, isn't it?...

Only...forget it. Get 100 megabits on a good day.

Me? Still having to struggle to watch my pr0n on 2G/EDGE. Well, OK, it lasts longer....

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Holmes

Charlemagne

Why this stuff isn't done at EU level in order to kill the absurdity that is intra-European roaming? At the moment you have to restrict/eliminate data usage whenever it would come more useful (or risk facing a bill the size of the Greek debt back at home.) Unique opportunity for the Eurocrats to actually do something useful.

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Re: Charlemagne

Spectrum allocation is largely a national issue still, albeit with a lot of Europe and international collaboration.

Regarding the rather off topic issue of international roaming charges in Europe, you're way behind the times, as the Eurocrats (for a rare change) have been fairly active in sorting this out. Nothing like as quickly as you and I might like, but they have addressed it across all of Europe, and they've done a fairly good job (eg data roaming charges were halved on 1 July this year, and will be reduced to a fifth of that even by July 2014. There's a good Wiki article on European Roaming Charges that'll give you the detail if you want it.

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