& cplSiteName &

Britain Braced for 4G Fight

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
7/24/2012
50%
50%

With Ofcom 's plans for a 4G spectrum auction now revealed, the U.K.'s mobile operators can now decide whether or not to challenge the proposals in court or focus on how to acquire the best spectrum for their mobile broadband networks. (See UK's 4G Auction Set for 2013 and Ofcom Unveils 4G Auction Plans.)

Either way, it's going to be a big fight.

When the bidding finally starts early next year, the auction will be the country's biggest ever spectrum sale, with 250MHz of spectrum available in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands.

It will also arguably be the country's most infamous auction for all the delays the process has endured, thanks to various legal threats from mobile operators. (See A 4G Pig's Ear.)

And Ofcom's announcement today doesn't necessarily eliminate the potential for lawsuits.

Shaun Collins, CEO at CCS Insight , described Ofcom's proposal as a "tweak" rather than a "wholesale restructuring" of the auction design. And given that, he said, "I wonder if we won't get the same backlash from the same operators as last time." (See Ofcom Tweaks LTE Spectrum Proposals.)

But the regulator appears to be ready for a legal fight, if operators chose to litigate.

Ofcom published more than 500 pages in today's consultation document. According to Ovum Ltd. 's Matthew Howett, there's not a material difference from what Ofcom produced in January, but the majority of pages are made up of them justifying their proposals. "If there is a legal challenge, they know they'll come out on top," he said.

So what's new?
The changes Ofcom has introduced, while seemingly slight, will have a big effect on how much of the valuable 800MHz spectrum each of the U.K.'s four mobile operators will be able to get. This spectrum's value lies in its lower frequency range, which has better propagation qualities; and that means operators would need to deploy fewer base stations to cover wider areas, compared to using higher frequency spectrum.

Ofcom has proposed that one of the licenses for a 2X10MHz block of 800MHz comes with a coverage obligation to bring mobile broadband services for indoor reception to 98 percent of the population by the end of 2017.

Also, Ofcom has reserved some of the 800MHz spectrum for a fourth mobile operator -- which is likely to be 3 , but could also be any other alternative service provider -- to enable them to be a credible competitor to EE , Telefónica UK Ltd. 's O2 and Vodafone UK .

Those restrictions means there is less unfettered 800MHz spectrum to go around.

"One of the leading operators in the U.K. isn't going to get an 800MHz license," says Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading . "Having the 800MHz spectrum is a big advantage for getting coverage -- and you need a 10MHz channel for LTE. They have to decide how much they want to bid to make it worth their while."

This has always been the case with the 800MHz spectrum in particular, however. According to Ovum's Howett, "it's not possible to get everyone to have the same spectrum -- they're just going to have to roll out different networks."

What's at stake in this auction is U.K. mobile operator's future networks.

"Spectrum is literally the air [operators] breathe -- without it, they will die," said CCS Insight's Collins. "It's that crucial."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:26:37 PM
re: Britain Braced for 4G Fight


Here we go again.... another auction destined to squeeze enormous amounts of cash out of the operators, which will then be capital-constrained....


Shouldn't these companies be encouraged to invest more in their networks, applications development and support services instead of handing bilions over to the U.K. government?


Wouldn't it be wiser to put in place an annual payment based on revenues that would deliver long-term returns on the spectrum for the government, which bleats on about how it wants to do all it can to encourage the broadband services market? 


The UK mobile sector was put on ice for years following the 3G spectrum auction in 2000 because of the short-sightedness and greed of the government. And now it's going to happen again.


Well done... (sarcastic applause)

Michelle Donegan
50%
50%
Michelle Donegan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:26:36 PM
re: Britain Braced for 4G Fight


I also think Ofcom should have done more to ensure broadband coverage for the country with this auction design -- like Germany did with its LTE auction.


Ofcom added an indoor coverage obligation for one of the 800MHz licenses, but it stops short of mandating that everyone should get a 2Mbit/s broadband service (at least).

Flook
50%
50%
Flook,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:26:33 PM
re: Britain Braced for 4G Fight


Lease, (don't sell) the spectrum and (I agree) charge the operators based on revenue

Soupafly
50%
50%
Soupafly,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 5:26:25 PM
re: Britain Braced for 4G Fight


Ray, you've been spending too much time listening to Vittorio Colao @ VF.


All the operators have made a stackload off of 3G services! Anyone telling you anything else is lying - simple as.


All the operators are run by greedy sharks who have a "never enough" mentality and thats the reason why they have never stopped bleating. The original UK auction was a fiasco, for sure, but the financial model worked.


An annual payment may make sense. But you forget. This is politicians. They are only interested in there 4/5 years in office and how many brown envelopes they can collect during that time.


Against that backdrop, do you really think any of them give a figleaf about the next administration or the countries long-term interests?? Why would they.....


 

Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 19, 1:00PM EDT
Securing a Virtual World
Rita Marty, Executive Director, Mobility and Cloud Security, Chief Security Office, AT&T
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: SD-WAN Customers Looking for Value Not Cost Savings

9|30|16   |   5:31   |   (0) comments


At NFV & Carrier SDN in Denver, CenturyLink's Eric Nowak told Light Reading that when customers launch SD-WAN, they aren't necessary looking to save money, but instead they are looking for more value from what they're spending. He also shared some unique case studies and lessons learned from launching SD-WAN services.
LRTV Custom TV
Flexible Deployment Approaches for the Gigabit Services Evolution

9|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


For many operators, the gigabit evolution begins with the shift from DOCSIS 3.0 to DOCSIS 3.1. But that move represents a change not only in the protocol itself, but in the approach to architecting their entire DOCSIS delivery chain -- from the headend to the outside plant and home gateway components.

Jonathan Ruff, senior director of global technical ...

LRTV Interviews
Level 3 VP: Enterprises Need More for Less

9|29|16   |   05:27   |   (0) comments


Andrew Dugan, Level 3 group vice president of global technology and IT, says enterprises need more bandwidth and they need it faster and with greater security, but they want to spend less, if possible. They are looking to carriers to reduce their network complexity and help protect them from cyberattacks as well.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: SDN/NFV Pose New Interconnection Possibilities

9|28|16   |   04:37   |   (0) comments


Network operators should develop new APIs and business processes for reselling virtual assets to each other, says CenturyLink's Bill Walker. That will enable them to build digital business portfolios that help them avoid becoming commodity transport providers.
LRTV Interviews
Level 3: Overcoming Terror of Being Supplier, Integrator & Developer

9|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Travis Ewert of Level 3 Communications said there is terror in becoming supplier, integrator and developer, but it can be overcome and be cost effective.
LRTV Custom TV
Introducing IoT World News

9|27|16   |   01:43   |   (0) comments


Self-driving cars, medical sensors, smart cities... and refrigerators. In order to address the huge scope of IoT, KNect365 has created a unique online community that will help businesses to understand and monetize the opportunities that live within the IoT market. We look forward to welcoming you to IoT World News -- your gateway to a better connected future.
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Reusable Functions Next NFV Key

9|27|16   |   06:03   |   (0) comments


The next generation of NFV has to break functions down into reusable software chunks, making everything much more cloud-like.
LRTV Interviews
Masergy on Security: Attackers Gaining Upper Hand

9|27|16   |   5:10   |   (2) comments


At Light Reading's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Ray Watson, vice president of Global Technology at Masergy, says that because of the growth in virtualization, the threat landscape is shifting in favor of the attackers. As a result, service providers need to think beyond just defending the perimeter and take a more holistic approach to security.
LRTV Interviews
Verizon Takes Next Step on Biz Virtualization Journey

9|26|16   |   4:38   |   (2) comments


At September's NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver, Light Reading sat down with Victoria Lonker, director of Product and New Business Innovation at Verizon, to chat about where the carrier is with delivering virtualized services to business customers.
LRTV Interviews
Global Services: The $40B Face-Off

9|26|16   |   05:53   |   (1) comment


More service providers than ever before are battling it out to win a slice of what is now a $40 billion global communications services pie, explains Ovum Principal Analyst David Molony.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (20) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Eurobites: Telefónica Taps Juniper for Network Security
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 9/26/2016
Powell Kills the Cable Show
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/29/2016
Telstra Sees Quadrupled Data Capacity by 2020
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/28/2016
Open Source Getting on My Nerves
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/26/2016
Upskill U Kicks Off Gigabit Courses With Orange
Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Editor, 9/26/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
There's Nothing Like Missing a Full Minute of Pokémon Go Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.