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O2 enable 3G in 900MHz spectrum
Friday 18 March 2011 15:53:42 by John Hunt

O2 have enabled their 3G network to have extended reach in London this week, the company have announced, enabling the 900MHz spectrum to be used for 3G services. Until recently, Ofcom rules only allowed the 900MHz frequencies allocated to Vodafone and O2 to be used for GSM (2G) mobile services, but a recent change has allowed the operators to re-use the spectrum for 3G services. This change gives the two companies a key advantage as lower frequencies can travel a further distance, allowing coverage areas from a cell tower to increase. Previously, 3G services were only allow to be used in the 2.1GHz range.

"This... switch on is the latest in a series of network enhancements for O2, and is a first for the UK and Telefónica. We've acted quickly to bring the benefits of 3G over 900MHz spectrum to our customers and we're thrilled with the results. Quite simply, on O2's network, more customers can use more data, and experience it quicker."

Nigel Purdy, (Chief Technology Officer) O2

O2 has also been enabling 3G in the 900Mhz spectrum in other cities including Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester. The company say it gives a 50% increase in network capacity and 30% faster downloads. Vodafone are expected to follow suit, but no other UK network operators hold 900MHz spectrum. Orange and T-Mobile both hold 1800MHz spectrum, but enabling this for 3G doesn't provide as significant a benefit as the 900MHz range.

One suggested use for 3G in the 900MHz spectrum is to allow network operators to bring mobile broadband to rural areas where no broadband services currently exist. Anyone who has regularly used a mobile broadband service will know that coverage and speeds can vary, whilst services aren't always that cheap. This could still be a welcome service to those that live in broadband not-spots however.

One gotcha for this upgrade is that not all mobile handsets and devices have been designed to use 3G in the 900MHz spectrum, meaning the upgrade will make no difference to many users.


Posted by otester over 6 years ago

As soon as Vodafone has done this nationwide I will be switching from Three.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
"not all mobile handsets and devices have been designed to use 3G in the 900MHz spectrum"

- any notable ones that do or don't use 900 for 3G if available ?
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
iPhone 4 does support UMTS900 but all previous versions of the iPhone do not.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
Shame that they have targeted urban areas that would have already had good UMTS2100 coverage.

They need to deploy UMTS900 in rural areas as well. Still the price and usage limits on O2 mean that 3G data is still not a good option for home broadband. Only 3GB for £15.32pm on 18 month contract!
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

IIRC this requires extra kit and urban areas need extra capacity.

I'd expect they'll be rolling this out to all masts eventually.

We will either see a doubling in speed or usage, I hope it's the later.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
@otester I never said that urban areas didn't need upgrading. I simply said rural areas as well i.e. the whole GSM900 network.

With O2's usage limits I doubt there will be much increase in usage so hopefully an increase in call capacity and data speed.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

Would be more logical that way, swap all current 3G kits to the 900Mhz spectrum solving the rural issue (affects me a bit too - only 1 3G provider in the area), then just add extra 2100Mhz kits to areas that need the extra capacity.

Call capacity is down to cost to connect to another network (notice 3 are generous with 3-3 calls?).
Posted by offcs over 6 years ago
Where I live (rural) we only have Vodafone and Orange on Edge, and Orange's signal is very hit-and-miss. If Vodafone switched on 3G on the 900MHz frequency then they would get a lot of customers switching/joining.
Posted by blueacid over 6 years ago
The HTC Desire certainly supports UMTS 900Mhz... pity I'm on Vodafone though!
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

That's only until 4th April.
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