Skip Navigation

It is not Digital Britain it is 4GBritain
Monday 30 April 2012 09:57:02 by Andrew Ferguson

Everything Everywhere has been pushing for 4G roll-out for some time, with Ofcom currently running a consultation to allow it utilise its 1800 MHz spectrum for a pre-auction service.

The provider who is made up of T-Mobile and Orange has launched a campaign called 4GBritain that is aiming to put pressure on the Government and Ofcom to move the 4G roll-out forward. Current timetable means that the UK is not likely to see the auction completed until 2013, with roll-out starting that year.

As it stands Vodafone and O2 look set to challenge any auction that uses the current format by Ofcom because they view the spectrum set aside for the 3 network as favourable treatment. Ofcom views this set aside as helping to promote competition by ensuring as large a number of 4G operators as possible.

Capital Economics commissioned by Everything Everywhere has carried out research into the benefits of 4G services in the UK assuming 4G is rolled out to 95% of the population. The Everything Everywhere coverage makes a positive point of the abilities for 4G, but it does paint a pessimistic picture for fixed line broadband, "Provide access to mobile superfast broadband to at least 10 million people who won’t be able to get fixed line superfast broadband by end of the decade". Looking at this another way the suggestion is that around a sixth of the UK population will not have access to a fixed superfast broadband service by 2020. This represents a failure of the BDUK projects to meet they 2015, and the fixed line industries to have not improved the situation by 2020.

We strongly suspect that with a large sporting event happening in London this year, that until that is over there will be little progress in the 4G arena. If Everything Everywhere can bring together the providers, in that timeframe, then we might see the 4G auction happening slightly earlier, particularly if visitors to the UK have less than kind words about the state of mobile broadband in the capital over the summer.


Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
I wonder if all this should serve as a salutary lesson in what happens when the infrastructure is not owned by a single company. Perhaps if there was an equivalent of 'Openreach' for mobile broadband things would be going more smoothly.

Just a thought :)
Posted by cyberdoyle over 5 years ago
Perhaps if it wasn't for openreach we would all have decent broadband by now? perhaps you wouldn't have to work on bonded copper lines AndrewC and perhaps we could be leading the world instead of being throttled and contended to such a degree many remain analogue and millions can't even get a decent service. Perhaps if it wasn't for openreach and ofcom the auction would have gone ahead ages ago. Perhaps if it wasn't for openreach 'superfast' would be delivered by fibre instead of phone lines.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
Or perhaps if it wasn't for openreach you'd have no broadband at all, certainly non where Virgin cable doesn't exist anyway

You always say the same old stuff cd and its always well.. wrong. You seem to think that if by magic openreach opened their ducts to other companies for free everyone would suddenly get FTTH and it would be viable, not true.
Posted by c_j_ over 5 years ago
@AndrueC: "if there was an equivalent of 'Openreach' for mobile broadband "

I thought that was Arqiva's business already?

I thought mobile companies these days weren't interested in improving their coverage (and hence expanding the customer base) by increasing their physical assets, and that they'd decided their core business was a combination of lobbying, bundling, and confusion pricing?
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
I'm sorry CD... what does Openreach have to do with 4G?

And replace any company with Openreach and you'd still have the same problem of a 3rd or so of the population with poor fixed BB.

The only vehicle would have been a public owned entity to do said rollout... and none of the public owned entities has ever been efficient/cost effective.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Actually (and this will make some of you laugh) it turns out our estate does have a fibre connection. One of the other companies had it installed eight years ago. For some reason they only use it for voice (ISDN30 apparently). We're currently looking into sharing it with the other businesses. Haven't got far yet but did get a quote from BT and it says '0km from network access point' for a 100Mb/s connection.

Now all have to do is get our IT guys and accounts onboard. Unfortunately for all of us they are at other, bigger sites.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Apparently six officers sharing the link could have 16Mb/s symmetric for a tad under £200pcm. Just goes to show I suppose. Sadly that's six sets of IT and six sets of budgets that need to be approved :-/
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@c_j:Yeah I'd heard of them but wasn't sure. If there is a single company then how come EE are trying to go it alone? How come Ofcom is even involved? Sounds like a strange system to me.
Posted by jchamier over 5 years ago
Arqiva which had contracts with T-Mobile and Orange for running their 2G and 3G masts, sued EE when EE decided to combine masts to save money, as Arqiva would have less income. That is why it took so longer for Orange and T-Mobile customers to share the other brand's signal.

The only solution for approximate 99% coverage is to look at the Australian experience with the National Broadband Network (NBN) which is the only attempt to do this I've found. Answer = it costs. Governments in Europe don't have the same money (apparently).
Posted by themanstan over 5 years ago
NBN is a interesting solution, it leases existing infrastructure off the current suppliers and makes it available in a wholesale manner. Additionally, it invests in further network infrastructure expansion. There is no nationalising of any company assets, unlike some people claims...
Posted by mervl over 5 years ago
And unfortunately NBN seems to have stalled due to . . . cost.
Posted by camieabz over 5 years ago

Should be simple enough to put together the cost and dsiruption of the alternative option as a comparison to get the respective departments onboard.
Posted by driz over 5 years ago
NBN hasn't stalled at all? Think you may have wires crossed mervl.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@camieabz:Lol, that'd be nice. Unfortunately for two of the companies it's an international decision. We need budgetary approval from the US but it would be paid from the UK IT budget. That crosses business lines because our department is US based and the UK (who run our office) don't have such a unit. We're only under the UK business because we need someone who understands UK legislation and can work in Sterling.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
Then we have to persuade the powers that be that sharing a connection with other companies is sensible. To say nothing of all the companies differing contractual requirements. Oh and the Landlord doesn't want to be saddled with payments if someone goes bust either.

All of this has to be sorted out by people in Brighton and New York while those of us Oxfordshire twiddle our thumbs.

Simple, it ain't :)
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
GMAN99<< here he is again, the Openreach propaganda drone. i guess it's viable if the govournment throw lots of cash at them via BDUK
and throw and use Openreach access to muscle rivals out of the competition.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
creaky, please take your trolling elsewhere, if you can't comment on the article don't comment at all.
Posted by Somerset over 5 years ago
@AndrueC - how will it be shared and who will manage when one company wants all the bandwidth.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago
Technically it will be 3.9GBritain, not 4G, I doubt we will see 4G by 2020 at least.

Also this isn't an industrial fault, this is a governmental fault, taxes/regulations prevent the expansion into what is currently considered economically non-viable areas.
Posted by undecidedadrian over 5 years ago
To be honest didn't we see all the same rhetoric with 3G saw the mobile operators spend a stupid amount of money and now my smart phone on 3G struggles to even download a 5meg file in 10 mins.

@GMAN I don't think creaky is even trolling now, it's crept into stalking.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
@Somerset:It's shared at the head-end so each company would gets its own fixed bandwidth and - I think - has to arrange it's own backhaul. The quote I saw was for 100Mb/s shared equally at 16Mb/s each. That's going to be part of the negotiation I imagine if it ever gets that far. I don't know if all the companies want the same bandwidth. Some might not even want symmetrical bandwidth. Plus the backhaul costs might be a bit nasty for some of them. I think we can extend the existing WAN out to our exchange for relatively little.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
But it's anyone's guess at this stage. I'm hoping that once our managers know that there is fibre here they might go for lighting their own strand rather than try and get a disparate bunch of businesses to work together.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

My phone downloads a 5MB file in a few seconds, don't know which provider your with...

Also maybe your device is outdated, technically if it is 3G (UTMS - 384Kbps) then 10 minutes isn't unreasonable.
Posted by leexgx over 5 years ago
if 3uk does get the 800 band at least it start to work indoors, out of all the networks 3 need it as there network has the all you can eat plans it really hammers there network to the point it us not reliable (LTE would hope it offload a lot of the heavy users)

also LTE and LTE-ADV (4G+ i guess) is 4G its an new network, LTE-ADV is more the True 4G network but LTE and LTE-ADV use the same tech (not 4speed as the ITU in the USA was forced into calling it due to network operators push)
Posted by leexgx over 5 years ago
HSPA+ (fake 4G, in the USA for network operators)
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
i'll comment where i like. BT OP propaganda official.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
@GMAN99 @CreakyCopperline

While everyone enjoys a good debate, can I suggest that you accept you both have different viewpoints and avoid all of the name calling and childishness that seems to go with it.
Posted by otester over 5 years ago

They are rolling out 42Mbps HSPA+ at the moment to try and bridge the gap between now and when they get a 4G license.
Posted by GMAN99 over 5 years ago
@andrew, I accepted that a long time ago, I'm afraid he seems to follow me around and taunt me. Will ignore his comments from now on
Posted by creakycopperline over 5 years ago
Well you never seem to say anything that disagrees with BT, but you're happy to bash Virgin Media for the slightest thing.
even the article regarding blocking newzbin,
you gave them the preverbial french polish.
Andrew i don't regard the phrase propaganda minister as a playground insult. as i've said before Biast BT apollogist, someone else commented it is useless to comment on this site while people like gmann are wearing the blinkers, and he was right. mow down pedesrtians... or kicking pets cats, GMAN99 would exscuse them all the time.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago

Well if the two of you cannot desist, then comment rights will be revoked

Disagreements are fine, but your last comment creaky is too much, but have left so people can see why I think so.

My take on your two is this
1. GMan, probably had a poor experience with Virgin Media, and has had reasonable experiences with BT
2. creaky, hates anything BT based, but no idea why.

Posted by leexgx2 over 5 years ago
but only an very limited amount of tablets that support DC-HSPA+ not sure if any phones support it yet or will, it also still shares the same issues with sharing bandwidth with HSDPA and UMTS traffic so high speeds are unlikely

but the same can be for LTE but its an new network so should be called 4G all LTE phones will support at least 50mb or 100mb from the start, not sure if any will support 150mb or 300mb not sure if phones will support it (not seen any LTE phone faster then 100mb)
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.