Broadband News

4G auction not over, but time to start talking 5G

With 4G hardly off the starting line we are now talking about 5G. Ofcom last week published plans for the move towards using 700 MHz for mobile broadband, which is where FreeView currently lives. Though don't panic we are talking of around 2018 for this actually happening.

To many this will be a shock, but Ofcom has been quietly talking about this move, which is driven by the EU that wants to ensure that at least spectrum band works across all EU countries rather than the mish-mash that 4G is now. Also as we push mobile signals lower down the frequency spectrum the transmission range improves, but at the expense of having to shuffle around services like FreeView.

Some of the language of the Ofcom plan is almost apocalyptic with talk of a capacity crunch and mobile data usage rising 80 times higher than today by 2030. Which sounds massive, but this will only be fractionally higher than the amount used by fixed line broadband services today. Ofcom reports that mobile data is 20 million GigaBytes per year, up from 9 million GB the previous year, given the massive number of mobile handsets/dongles in the UK, this is brought back down to a figure that a lot easier to visualise and not so frightening. The average (assuming 20 million mobile data devices) mobile data usage is 83MB per month, up from 37MB per month the previous year.

We believe extrapolating this is a dangerous game, particularly as the last 2 years has seen the smartphone and tablet enter the mainstream, and once sales of these devices levels off we may see usage level off. This is particularly the case if 4G data services follow the pattern of EE where data pricing is based around a scarcity model.

FreeView boxes should actually cope pretty well with another change to the service, as the vast majority will just need a retune, though as with the current 4G roll-out there be some who need to play around with filters or changes to aerials, but this is some time away. The good news is for those who worked on the Digital Switchover and are now looking to work on the 4G interference mitigation, as this 700 MHz band change could mean they have a nice work load for the next decade.


Not yet another Freeview retune!! Don't these fools realise what disruption they cause by all this swapping around? Many areas had a forced retune last month and there is another early summer next year, just so some can have faster smartphones. But no one seems to care that many people need help to retune yet again and often have to pay for that help!
Forget the EU need and forget 5G, make 4G work properly and leave it at that so DTV is not affected for once.

  • michaels_perry
  • over 8 years ago

Are there any plans to switch off 2G services? I realise they're essentially the "fallback" currently, but it's bad enough having 2G, 2.5G (EDGE), 3G and 4G all operating at once without throwing 5G into the mix as well.

  • Kushan
  • over 8 years ago

I said it before and I will say it again, this country is useless. they give us a digital TV service which is to be honest rubbish and then they keep changing it.

For goodness sake, there have been more changes in the few years that Digital terrestrial Tv have been around in this country than all the years we have had analogue. i am so glad i don't watch TV any more.

  • zyborg47
  • over 8 years ago

I think you might find the ultimate goal is to actually do away with terrestrial TV altogether, so you use a computer or satellite service - or just don't bother.
Just think of the money to be made using those frequencies.
As they are slowly coming down the frequency bands I expect Band I to make a come back any decade soon as there are loads of frequencies un-used.

  • normcall
  • over 8 years ago

cant really turn off 2g as a lot of users with old and New 2g brick phones(none 3g new phones) and some older blackberry and Lots of GPS trackers would stop working as none of them have 3G and never will, and to add to that 3g does not norm cover all the places where 2g does

really how hard is it to say Yes to the box that pops up when it says new channels have been found? on the freeview or tv

  • leexgx
  • over 8 years ago

Seems leegx that you have a much more advanced freeview box than me. I have to go through retuning to find new channels. The point has to be made that a free service used by millions is being messed about for the dubious advantages of 4G and 5G. These services are being priced so high that the take up will be pathetic.

  • RichBeardman
  • over 8 years ago

Talk about being pathetic? You can't be bothered to hit the retune button when the frequency changes for such a clear cut decision.

  • Stalks
  • over 8 years ago

It's all very well for you, Stalks, but there are many, and not just the elderly, who do not understand how to do this. They are not used to menu systems, it is not just a matter of hitting a retune button, usually it is not visible.

  • Chilli_Burger
  • over 8 years ago

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