Ofcom 4G Spectrum Revised:
With the demand for mobile data expected to increase by 500% over the next five years in Western Europe, 4G is seen as the next step in offering speed and efficiency in delivering the kind of services we all expect for our mobile devices.
With the UK going pretty much fully digital by the end of this year, spectrum in the currently used 800MHz range is now becoming free, and along with a 2.6GHz band, will be auctioned off in Q4 of this year to networks to help facilitate 4G mobile services.
Ofcom amend original ideas about 4G:
Ofcom have amended their 4G spectrum coverage quota to include coverage to at least 98% of the UK population.
Could this finally mean that the UK eventually gets a 4G network that the globe can admire, while the UK currently languishes behind with pilot projects and can only look at areas such as the US and Asia with anticipation, Ofcom aim to bring 4G mobile to the masses some time soon.
Speaking about the decision an Ofcom spokesperson states:
“We are proposing a significant enhancement of mobile broadband, extending 4G coverage beyond levels of existing 2G coverage – helping to serve many areas of the UK that have traditionally been undeserved by network coverage.”
So how will Ofcom do this?
Ofcom want to be seen to promote two things;
Competition in the marketplace, and coverage for UK citizens who want access to high speed mobile internet.
Instead of forcing network operators to deliver the originally proposed 95% coverage to the UK population, which was the original guidelines for at least one of the networks who gained access to the 800MHz frequencies.
Idea number 1:
Ofcom will now possibly extend that requirement to a larger 98% UK coverage stipulation, this aims to make networks continue to build infrastructure in less economically viable areas which will benefit those who are living in such regions.
The extra coverage requirement comes on the back of a donation made by the UK government of £150 million to build extra infrastructure in these “hard to reach” or “economically less viable” areas, so Ofcom are hoping to make the networks add to this original percentage rather than take from this seemingly helpful situation.
Idea number 2:
This idea could be used in conjunction with the above proposals and would mean that one of the 800Mhz operators would have to provide 4G coverage that at least matched 2G coverage but also extended into the less viable areas.
Ofcom want current competitiveness to stay the same:
“The UK benefits from being one of the most competitive mobile phone markets in Europe. This means that consumers pay less for mobile communications services and have the choice to shop around for packages that suit them best. As the UK enters a new generation of mobile communications, Ofcom’s objective is to promote effective competition and to stimulate both investment and innovation.”
Ofcom believe that the UK need at least four network wholesalers of mobile services need to be in the UK marketplace to ensure that the price stays competitive in the marketplace.
Everything everywhere unhappy:
In the new proposals, Ofcom have also halted plans to reserve some of the sub 1GHz spectrum for Everything Everywhere, one of the three big wholesalers of mobile services in the UK.
Everything everywhere has said that they are unhappy that Ofcom have failed to realise the importance of the sub 1GHz spectrum which they say could be used to
“The importance of sub 1GHz spectrum, which delivers service and cost benefits, has been recognised by other regulators across Europe and supported by economic analysis. All of the regulators bar Ofcom have made vigorous efforts to support healthy and sustainable competition by ensuring that the imbalance of sub 1GHz holdings is redressed.”
Ofcom also stated that the are looking into reserving some of the spectrum from a fourth national wholesaler other than, Telefonica, Everything Everywhere, Vodafone.
A Three spokesperson said:
“Today’s proposals appear to be a pragmatic step towards bolstering the prospects of a competitive market for mobile data which would benefit all UK consumers.”
A Vodafone spokesperson said:
“We welcome Ofcom’s revised proposals, which bring the UK closer to a fair and open auction that will benefit the wider economy, increase competition and ultimately lead to the creation of innovative and exciting new services for consumers.”
An O2 spokesman said:
“It is good to see Ofcom’s latest publication, which details modifications in its terms for the forthcoming spectrum auction. This comes as a result of the first consultation process, which we took the opportunity to contribute to.”
4G will mean money for the Government:
The UK government is expected to make around £3-4 billion from the new eventual auction of the spectrum available late this year or early next year.
Ofcom is also no longer looking at reserving some of the 800Ghz spectrum to a 4th bidder in the most valuable of spectrum spaces on offer.Anthony Munns