PCCW, the company behind the WiMAX provider 'UK Broadband', plan to construct an LTE (Long Term Evolution) services in the UK which could breed a next-generation mobile broadband service by 2012. The company owns some spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz frequency ranges and intends to use these for LTE it has told Ofcom. Currently, equipment vendors don't offer devices that work on these frequencies, but the company has said that LTE equipment will be "available imminently" in these bands.
"It is the company's intention to launch a 4G service. We are currently working with our vendors to finalise the equipment offering on our spectrum. And we are finalising our network planning and our business plan."Nicholas James, (Chief Executive) UK Broadband
UK Broadband would not be offering retail services but would be acting as a wholesale operator to other mobile providers such as Virgin Media. The company may run in to some issues with using the technology on these frequencies as the higher the frequency, the less well the signal penetrates into buildings, and the shorter the distance the signal will travel. This may make quite a difference when compared with the 800MHz spectrum that is being auctioned by Ofcom for next-generation mobile broadband, although UK Broadband may of course come forward as one of the bidders in that.
If mobile handsets turn out to be incompatible with LTE at UK Broadband's frequencies, the service may not see a critical mass of users. They could however do well with business users who would be looking to use datacards / dongles with laptops, where a faster mobile 'net connection could improve mobile working.