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4G harmony intended to make 4G better across Europe
Tuesday 06 November 2012 09:55:39 by Andrew Ferguson

A cunning plan is underway to help push take-up of 4G services, by refarming part of the 3G spectrum so that 4G services have more spectrum and can thus run faster. David Meyer reporting on Gigaom goes into some detail on new EU targets that will see around of 120MHz of spectrum around the 2GHz point being shifted from 3G to 4G.

This change seems to be part of the move towards ubiquitous broadband across Europe, which while in the UK we complain a lot about our broadband lot, the UK is a long way ahead of many other European countries particularly in regard to ubiquitous broadband.

The danger with the refarming is that those on 3G data plans may find the service getting worse from 2014 onwards, and those operators with spectrum that will be able to re-use may not be willing to pay as much for spectrum in the 4G auctions in 2013.

The launch of 4G by EE which involved spectrum refarming achieved this by re-purposing spectrum used for 2G services, and as hardly any 2G only handsets exist anymore this is less of a problem.

Update 1pm: The full EU text on the announcement is now online, Digital Agenda: Commission Decision paves the way for 4G in Europe.

Comments

Posted by Norest over 2 years ago
At the moment there is roughly a 50 / 50 split between Contract and Pay as You Go customers with Contract customers opting for Smartphones and Pay As You Go customers tend to have 2G only features phones. This is a huge problem for networks who want to move over to 4G let alone 3G. Contract customers update their phones every 12 to 24 months. Pay As You Go customers don't.
Posted by vicdupreez over 2 years ago
Also a problem in the countryside where the networks have not bothered to upgrade to 3G...
Posted by Kushan over 2 years ago
PAYG customers will just have to upgrade at some point, then. You can get 3G feature phones cheaply enough these days. Or they'll just leave a slither of 2G signal for those on really old phones.
I agree it's mad to run 3 generations of services at once, though.
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
@Norest

Providing services for 2G/3G isn't really an issue since they require only a small amount of bandwidth in comparison to future technologies and future technologies can always be given priority data-wise, example being O2's 3G on 900mhz while also keeping the 2G service.
Posted by AspieMum over 2 years ago
Re-purposing 2G would leave me with no mobile internet. In my area of the village I live in there is no 3G. I have a Blackberry so my phone can handle 3G but I can't afford an expensive 4G phone, I'm on pay as you go, and all the mobile phone users I know are on a network that doesn't do 4G at present (O2). They don't use the internet on their phones so would not be switching and any free minutes I'd get when I top up like I get with O2 would not cover calling them so even if the call charges were not higher calling a different network it would still cost me more.
Posted by AspieMum over 2 years ago
They need to make sure eveywhere can recieve 3G first before they re-purpose 2G
Posted by AspieMum over 2 years ago
Typing error: I meant everywhere not eveywhere
Posted by AspieMum over 2 years ago
My Village is less than 10 miles from a city and just outside a town and is quite large for a village. Its is used as a main route to the city and has traffic jams twice a day. Officially rural but it doesn't feel like it is.
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
@AspieMum

I think what you mean is that there needs to be 3G services on the lower (900Mhz) frequency before they ditch 2G.
Posted by FlappySocks over 2 years ago
I dont mind if 3G is degraded for 4G, but dont degrade 2G. There are loads of embedded devices out there like gps trackers which rely on it, with no compelling reason to upgrade them.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 2 years ago
Personally It does not bother me.

I have a SIM only contract which allows tethering so I use that (when it works) but I also buy my own handsets. Every year I try and get a new one.

I might move to 4G someday but as a home worker they would have to go past the speeds currently offered by cable and FTTC for me to be interested. Because theres no point.
Posted by roph over 2 years ago
Is there any point? So you can use up that 500MB data allowance in 6 minutes instead of 14?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 2 years ago
Not really. I chewed through 145GB on 3 before I got my fibre service installed.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 2 years ago
I think their advertising is a shame and only those with more money than sense (and not a lot of money) will pay £36 for 500MB to me the unlimited calls and texts are not a selling point for 4G!
Posted by zyborg47 over 2 years ago
what would be nice is if more of the country could get a mobile phone signal for what a mobile should be used for, that is to talk.

Where a friend lives, she is lucky to get a decent signal for voice never mind 3g or 4g. do she live in the middle of nowhere? no, she lives on a estate just outside the city limits.
Posted by chrysalis over 2 years ago
disabling 2g signals is a bad mistake, if thats what EE has done. Although not many may have 2G only phones (I have one tho) there is the issue those with 3G phones still try to keep 3G turned of to save power, my 3G android I keep on 2G 95% of the time.
Posted by AspieMum over 2 years ago
Even if they lower the 3G signal's frequency to the 2G range if the signal quality/strength is so low here it can't handle 3G data transfer it still means no internet on mobiles here.
Posted by AspieMum over 2 years ago
All round the outside of my estate the 3G signal reaches but on this estate it doesn't. The fixed line broadband round our estate is 3MBs plus but on it is less than 2MBs and many can't even get 1MBs.
Posted by otester over 2 years ago
@zyborg47

Well this is what happens when people vote in people that extort companies through an auction process instead of making sure companies that money into infrastructure instead.

@chrysalis

Just put your phone in flight mode if your that bothered...

@AspieMum

City limits doesn't get you out of the sticks.
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