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UK Broadband looking to enable LTE by 2012
Wednesday 15 June 2011 16:11:40 by John Hunt

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.


Posted by nooneatall over 6 years ago
No will be excited about this when you still have ridiculous download limits on 3G. whats the point when you still have 1gb limit on 3G network, whats the point, F**k 4G
Posted by ramsayn over 6 years ago
Really don't see this getting any traction, even if the 800 & 2600 MHz deployments are delayed by legal challenges here, these frequencies are still the standard across Europe, Australia and parts of Asia. 3.5,3.6 is used nowhere.
Also 1800 MHz is quickly looking like a front runner for LTE worldwide and has already been approved by the European authorities for deployment, just waiting on Ofcom. Everything Everywhere must be very pleased.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

Your lack of techinal knowledge is showing.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago
Also blame the government (as usual) for the ridiculous licensing costs reducing future investment in the network.
Posted by c_j_ over 6 years ago

This would be the same PCCW subsidiary that back in 2004 (?) didn't win many of the regional fixed wireless broadband licences, then bought them all up afterwards instead, and then basically just sat on them. What exactly was the point of that exercise, Mr Ofcon?

A licence application should require proof of technical and commercial credibility (PCCW UK fail already), and a licence grant should include an obligation to deliver (or to relinquish the licence).

If Ofcon take these guys seriously then Ofcon are even bigger mugs than we already thought.
Posted by c_j_ over 6 years ago
Actually, not just Ofcon needs to question these guys credibility: ANYBODY who presents these guys as serious contenders without asking what happened to the grand plans for Netvigator/NOW/whatever is missing a trick.

They don't have anyone senior from H2O working for them now do they by any chance?
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

Something like MBNL for all providers would probably be more applicable as the frequency is finite.
Posted by timmay over 6 years ago
3.5-3.6Ghz would be good for fixed wireless but not mobile.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
their current business model is to provide spectrum and other support to companies wishing to deploy retail services - one of them is doing something for Welsh notspots I believe.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Huh. During the past month I have been to:

Llandudno (walked all over the town and up some local hills).

The only time my HTC Desire ever reported a 3G was temporarily in a pub in Banbury. It eventually gave up and went back to the 2G there. So - is LTE going to be any better or will it too turn out to be a big white elephant?
Posted by SheepFarmer over 6 years ago
@AndrueC which carrier?
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
D'oh! And I forgot to mention the mast near my office. It's the other side of the M40 to the water tower near Bicester. I can stand at the perimeter fence and not get 3G so presumably that tower isn't enabled.

Now okay none of these places are huge metropolis' if Banbury, Bicester and Kettering don't have decent availability then what's the point?
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Nicely timed :)

My Desire is with Everything Everywhere :-/
Posted by c_j_ over 6 years ago
"provide [bandwidth] and other support to companies wishing to deploy retail services"

Like the H2O/Fibrecity model, you mean, but wirelessly?

"doing something for Welsh notspots"

Really? Pointers welcome. There is a Welsh scheme for grants in notspots, and sadly it would not be a surprise to see a few folks being taken for a ride.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

The only provider at the moment with decent 3G coverage is Three, until Orange and T-Mobile merge their 3G network it will be very patchy for either provider, bit like O2/Vodafone.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Ah. Well it's not a problem as such since I don't want anything more than Google maps and a bit of browsing from my phone. Still - all this talk of 4G and the wonders of 3G and as far as I can tell 3G is near none-existent.

The best bit about Android is the seamless and automatic switching to known wifi networks :)
Posted by EnglishRob over 6 years ago
Could something like this be of use to those areas that are not-spots?

I realise they'd still have to lay fibre to the masts, but maybe it might work out cheaper that way than laying fibre to individual properties in an area. I realise that such a high frequency won't penetrate buildings so well, but maybe if they provided some sort of outdoor LTE kit then maybe they could offer a reasonable service?
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

The problem isn't the technology but the implementation, a while back on Vodafone Netherlands, service advertised as 3.6Mbps, I was getting 3.4Mbps constantly.

Like I said before, blame the government for the lack of investment, the operators have to cover the license fees, same problem will affect 4G as well, might be even worse.
Posted by bigluap over 6 years ago
AndrueC "my HTC Desire ever reported a 3G"

I think your handset had the same problem as mine, if it is still in warranty contact the service provider or HTC & get it sorted.
Mine would show a maximum signal of -65dbm sat next to a mast, post repair this is -45dbm & now works indoors.
Settings-about phone-network.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Well - you live and learn. I just did a bit of research and actually I'm maligning my phone. What it shows most of the time is 'H'. I knew that meant HSDPA but I thought that was the lowest speed. Apparently it's actually the best. So when it was showing '3G' in the pub it was actually dropping down, not struggling up.

The only fly in the ointment is that the speed tests I've run are usually pretty crap. It can hit 10Mb/s from my wifi but outside I think the best I've seen is 600kb/s.

I'll try again alongside the mast on the M40 tomorrow.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

Only network with decent speeds if Vodafone, Three is pretty hit and miss, others are just plain awful.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Which brings me back to my original question of course - will LTE really be any better?
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

Technology just decides the maximum, the rest is down to the provider.

3G is really no different from Cable/DSL networks when it comes down to usage management.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
It seems a lot, lot worse than Cable/DSL.

With DSL everyone at some point will get 85% of their sync speed. Cable users too can get close to the headline speed a lot of the time. Maybe not when they most want it but it happens for most people a fair amount of the time. I have never even got close to the maximum for HSDPA. Yes, it probably is some form of network management. My point though is why should anyone get excited about LTE since the operators can't even deliver earlier technologies?
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
I've long maintained that high speed wireless broadband is a white elephant. LTE seems like just more hype and another waste of effort. Excuses are, ultimately, just excuses. My experience is that wireless broadband is crap and never delivers its potential. DSL has issues but within the limitations of line quality delivers the top speed most of the time.
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

It will continue to be a wasted effort as long as the government keeps up the current licensing regime. I doubt this will ever change as the government makes a lot of money out of it.

LTE is something to be excited about because the maximum capacity* will be 100-300Mbps, whereas each current 3G mast's maximum capacity* can range from 3.6-21Mbps.

At least LTE will guarantee an overall increase in speed (and/or usage).

*Not overall maximum capacity of a mast, but what is available to a single user.
Posted by AndrueC over 6 years ago
Available to a single user. Hmmm. A single *heavily contended* user perhaps :)
Posted by otester over 6 years ago

It's per channel, at the moment some providers have 2 others have 3.

Like I said before, blame the government, you can't expect them to have to pay ridiculous fees, build a network and then upgrade it as well.
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