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Ofcom consults on allowing more re-use of spectrum for 4G
Friday 01 February 2013 17:27:12 by Andrew Ferguson

EE was allowed to re-purpose its 1800 MHz spectrum so that it could launch its 4G services ahead of the 4G auction and now it seems parts of the 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands may be used by Vodafone and three for the same purpose.

Ofcom is now consulting on whether providers should be allowed to run 4G on parts of the spectrum they already own, with the consultation ending on 29th March 2013.

O2 and Vodafone has also requested that it be allowed to increase maximum permitted power for its base stations by 3dB (decibels) on their 900 MHz spectrum for 3G. Which would increase the range of these towers and possibly fill in some of the slow-spots that exist across the UK.

Whether re-using spectrum for 4G will have an impact on 3G users is unknown, as it will all depend on the mobile operators and how they operate the network, it may be that the intention is to only re-use the spectrum once 4G handsets are very popular and data use on 3G networks is decreasing in parts of the UK.


Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
Makes sense, let the operators match the supply of technology to the demand from their customers.
Posted by James1o1o over 4 years ago
Ofcom once again holding back the entire country.

Could be worse, the FCC in America let the carriers run riot with the consumers.
Posted by Kr1s69 over 4 years ago
Is there a risk of harming the 4G auction by allowing it in existing spectrum so soon?
Posted by timmay over 4 years ago
3dB is a very significant increase in power.

Would love Three to be able to get indoor coverage. But for that they will need some 900 or 800Mhz spectrum.
Posted by David_W over 4 years ago
3dB is a doubling in power. The link budget issues with outlying areas may well be in the mobile to base direction anyway - there's no point in the mobile being able to hear the base station if the base station can't hear the mobile. Improving the base station antenna will help - though that improvement in the antenna is likely to improve the antenna gain and therefore the transmit EIRP.
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
The two 900 MHz transmitters nearest me are running several dB below their licence limit. Three's base station down the A1 is even less ambitious - Transmitter Power 18.7 dBW
Maximum licensed power 35 dBW
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
The downside, of course, is that this is stealing bandwidth from 2G and 3G customers... who are locked into long term contracts.

This kind of change would be a serious change to contract terms and *ought* to result in customers being able to end the contract, but I bet they won't allow that!
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
@herdwick - the actual transmit power, rather than the licenced maximum, is a function of the cell & frequency plans for the whole area.

To get coverage, a mobile provider needs a few cells at high power (and high mobile power).

To get capacity, the provider needs many more cells (and therefore masts), of a smaller radius, and transmitting at lower power.

If the operator is transmitting well below maximum power, it means he is aiming at high capacity in a smaller region - and needs more local masts. This is actually the more ambitious option of the two!
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