Ofcom are suggesting that the 600MHz and 700MHz bands of the spectrum could be used to cope with the increasing demand for mobile broadband in the future.
A consultation has been started by Ofcom “Securing long term benefits from scarce spectrum resources” that will look to keep them reserved for mobile broadband needs in the future. It is thought that mobile broadband demand could rise 80 fold between 2012 and 2030 in a mid-level growth scenario and a huge 300 fold in a high-growth scenario, just underlining the need to be ready for the extra demand. Much of this is due to smartphones and tablet PCs which increasingly use more and more video and data services as technology continues improving.
The spectrum could also be used for digital terrestrial television (DTT), emergency services or applications which use white space technology.
It won’t be a quick thing to get the frequency available for mobile broadband use, an international agreement needs to be done first with the expected earliest date it could be ready being 2018.
“Enabling the use of the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband in the UK would require a new international frequency co-ordination agreement. This could take several years to complete and will depend on the position adopted by other European countries. Our current view is that the earliest date this could be achieved is 2018, provided there is sufficient agreement in Europe.”
The consultation can be read at Ofcom.org.uk and all interested stakeholders have until 7th June 2012 to respond to the consultation.
A trial of 4G mobile broadband has started in Cornwall to test LTE (Long Term Evolution) services and how it performs in the real world dealing with mobile broadband and fixed line broadband.
The trials are being performed between the telecom operators BT and Everything Everywhere (the name for the joint company of Orange & T-Mobile).
LTE services should offer faster mobile broadband speeds and in the trials will use the 800MHz spectrum which was previously used for analogue TV services.
200 people are signed up for the trial in St Newlyn East and South Newquay, 100 with fixed line connections and 100 with mobile broadband connections. The technology will be being tested to see if it is a feasible and reliable option to compliment fixed line broadband services for those in rural areas where currently they live a great distance from their local telephone exchange and struggle to get a decent broadband speed.
Those who are signed up for the free trial will receive the internet connections for free but will need to give feedback about their experiences with using it.
Chief Executive of BT Wholesale, Nigel Stagg, said:
“The final ten per cent of the country is exceedingly difficult to reach with the available standard fixed-line solutions.
Our proof of concept trial in Cornwall will test the capabilities and services that a shared fixed and mobile data network can support.”
BT aim to cover two thirds of the UK with it’s new fibre broadband network by 2015, however, with the remaining parts of the country not covered due to financial restrictions (BT will struggle to recoup on their investment as easily with many rural areas) it could well be that 4G technology is what will be looked at to help give the remaining homes without fibre a faster broadband connection.
Ofcom are due to start auctions of the 800MHz network next year.
Fibre optic broadband and mobile broadband networks is taking too long according to the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Hunt believes that the UK is in danger of falling behind the rest of Europe by taking too long to get things sorted. He liked the problems to how we dealth with our railways by saying:
“We need to ensure we do not make the same mistake in broadband that we made in railways – building our high-speed network 45 years after the French and 62 years after the Japanese.
PIA (physical infrastructure access) has to be sorted out – and quickly – in a way that allows fair competition with different providers able to invest in our broadband infrastructure.”
The price that BT wants to charge rivals for access to their underground ducts and telephone poles so that they can install or lay their own fibre network are due this month, but it is likely to be a case that the prices will be disputed by BT’s rivals as too high which will then again delay the process of more fibre being laid in the UK. This could then delay the process by up to a year before Ofcom comes in with making a decision.
Currently we have Fujitsu looking to create a £2bn fibre network across the UK but they are after £500m of funds from the government that have been put aside to help roll-out next generation broadband to rural areas.
Along with his thoughts on fixed line fibre broadband Mr Hunt also said how he wanted the mobile phone operators to work together and put aside any competitive differences with the forthcoming 4G spectrum auction so as to not have that delayed any further.
Mobile data is increasing at an astonishing rate and so the 4G network capacity is in great need, it is predicted that by 2015 the volume of mobile data is set to increase 26-fold!
Currently Vodafone and O2 have space spectrum while Three and Everything Everywhere (Orange & T-Mobile are jointly owned) are in desperate need for extra capacity.
Mr Hunt said:
“Sweden completed their auction in 2009, Germany last year, Italy is doing theirs this week and France will finish theirs this year.
Mobile phone operators must put aside competitive differences and work together in their common and our national interest to make this happen.”
eBay says poor mobile broadband connections are costing UK online retailers around £1.3 billion per year in un-completed sales.
eBay commissioned the research into m-commerce to find out where it could potentially lead to with results finding that in the next four years mobile shopping could increase four-fold to £4.5 billion by 2016 and this increasing by a further £13 billion by 2021!
Aside from these impressive growth figures the research also found that mobile spending in some rural areas such as the Scottish Highlands and rural Wales is at least 20% lower than the national average and this accounted for around 16% of the country being classed a “m-commerce not-spot”.
More than one third of consumers also failed to complete a transaction on their mobile phone due to mobile broadband issues causing problems.
eBay have done this research ahead of the 4G mobile broadband auction next year and have called on Ofcom, the UK Communications Regulator to do more to address consumer frustrations when setting the rules for the new 4G services. eBay see m-commerce as being able to play a part in helping the UK’s economic recovery.
The research was carried out by Verdict and was conducted with 1,500 customers during the middle of May.
The fastest mobile broadband in the UK is provided by O2 according to a study done by Ofcom.
The study done last year between September and December was done by Ofcom in partnership with Epitiro, the broadband monitoring specialists, found that the average mobile broadband speed was 1.5Mb with an average web page taking 8.5 seconds to download, this was done using dongles and datacards and did not include smartphones.
In areas where there was very good 3G coverage the average mobile broadband speeds were 2.1Mb which during peak evening hours fell to 1.7Mb with basic web pages taking around 2.2 seconds to download on average.
Between the 5 mobile broadband providers in the UK it was O2 mobile broadband that on average performed the fastest and had a lower latency that 3, Orange and Vodafone. O2 averaged around 2.5-3Mb speeds while at the other end of the scale Orange were averaging around 1-1.4Mb speeds.
Other interesting parts that the study found was that 17% of UK households use mobile broadband services to access online services with 7% using it as their only means of internet access, a 4% rise in a year from the 3% the previous year.
Over 4.2 million broadband speed tests were run for the study with 97 static test probes across the UK being used to gather the results.
MPs from different parties yesterday called on Ofcom to make the requirement of the 800MHz mobile broadband spectrum to be available to 98% of the UK, up from the 95% figure that is currently being attached to it ahead of it being auctioned off next year in a plea to help a further 2 million rural people who live out of range of high speed broadband connections.
The current target of 95% coverage that is being attached to it would leave around 6 million people without the 4G mobile broadband access which works well over long distances and works well for those living in rural and more remote areas to get a reliable internet connection.
MPs claim that Ofcom is putting money before coverage by saying that Ofcom are worried about losing money from the auction as the mobile broadband providers may not pay as much for the 800MHz spectrum if they are required to extend the coverage from 95% to 98% of the country.
Ofcom will finish their consultation stage of the auction at the end of this month and once this is done the terms that will be attached to the new 800MHz spectrum will be decided. Ofcom are unlikely at this late stage to increase to required coverage from 95% of the population. The estimate cost to increase from 95% coverage to 98% coverage is around £215 million with this figure potentially lowering the final sale price of the spectrum.
In future however if the government need to go to the winners of the auction and request that coverage is extended then they will be having to pay for this as apposed to it being done by the companies own costs now.
T-Mobile are running a limited time offer on their PayG Mobile Broadband with a price reduction and free days.
The price of the T-mobile PayG mobile broadband has been reduced from £19.99 to just £8.99 + a £10 top up. Customers will receive 30 days of browsing for free when they buy their first days browsing for a cost of £2.
The T-Mobile dongle allows users to access the Internet from almost anywhere without the need to have a fixed line Internet connection which makes using a laptop to access the Internet when out and about far easier.
The offer is limited time and is available until 30th September and is available on both the black and pink MBB 610 sticks.
Offer available at: www.t-mobile.co.uk
3 Mobile has topped a YouGov study to bmobile broadbande voted the best mobile broadband provider in the UK.
There were 12 categories that were looked at in the study, with 3 Mobile broadband topping 10 of them, including value for money and reliability amongst others.
The study was done using more than 2,000 UK mobile broadband users from Three, Vodafone, Orange, O2, and T-Mobile to rate their mobile broadband provider on 12 key points.
The 12 key points that customers were asked on were:
Installation of software
Reliability during the day
Reliability during the evening
Ease of use
Three have the largest share of the UK mobile broadband market with around 35% and have coverage to more than 95% of the population.
A university student who went to Paris to study has been left with a mobile broadband bill of almost £8,000!
William Harrison, aged 22, went into an Orange store and asked the assistant about mobile broadband and using it in France. He was advised by the staff in the Orange store that mobile broadband would be fine to use in France and recommended him a short term contract that offered him 3Gb usage and told him that this would be “perfectly ample” for what he needed it for. His usage was often to use Skype for phone calls and he didn’t download or watch videos or other applications that used allot of data.
William regularly used Skye back home to make free phone calls over the Internet and thought that he would be able to save money by doing so when in France.
What William was unaware of was that the data transfer was not able to be used outside of the UK and that Orange were charging him £2.94 per Mb for using the dongle abroad.
After his first month of using the mobile broadband dongle abroad last September he received his first bill for a whopping £6,101.56. Upon receiving this he straight away queried the bill and got the mobile broadband dongle blocked so he could not rack up any more charges, however in the meantime between receiving his bill and the dongle getting blocked he racked up a further £1,547.21 and took his total bill up to £7,648.77!
When Williams father, Roger phoned up to speak to Orange about this the Orange operator he spoke to was shocked that this bill had got so large as there should be a £40 per month limit. However the operator was seemingly also unaware that this did not apply to usage when abroad.
There is new European laws to be introduced to help stop users getting “Bill Shock” where the bill would cut off when it reaches a limit of 50 Euros (about £44), although users can alter this limit if they wish.
These laws however, although introduced last year didn’t have to be implemented until 1st March this year.
It is understood that the bill has been halved by Orange and payment terms of 24 months have been made available to William to pay back the mobile broadband bill.
Virgin Media are to launch a new mobile broadband dongle which will offer a headline Virgin Mobile Broadband speed of 7.2Mb.
The likely hood of receiving 7.2Mb mobile broadband is unlikely and the speed users receive will vary very much on their location and the distance they are from the mobile transmitter.
The new dongle also comes with a Micro SD slot that can be used to saving data too.
Virgin Mobile Broadband can be taken up on either monthly tariffs or 18 month contracts and will cost either £10 or £15 depending on if you choose the 1GB or 3GB monthly usage limit.
Virgin are now the second operator to offer the up to 7.2Mb Mobile broadband option alongside Vodafone.