Light Reading

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
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.....


 

Flash Poll
From The Founder
Networks of the future will rely on "white box" switches and servers rather than proprietary hardware and that's going to alter the shape of the communications industry. Who says so? John Chambers.
LRTV Custom TV
The Benefits of HyperScale Clouds for NFV

3|27|15   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Hyperscale cloud has been developed by the Internet giants to support the creation and delivery of software-based services at blistering speeds, and at the lowest possible cost. The original ETSI NFV vision was to adopt hyperscale cloud architecture and practices. This vision has become somewhat obscured along the way, due to misunderstandings about the hyperscale ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
eLTE Rapid Meets the Need for Speed

3|26|15   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


Designed especially for emergency and dedicated ad hoc local mobile communications coverage, Huawei's eLTE Rapid solution can deliver trunked voice, video and data coverage for multiple users over a 6km range and be set up in just 15 minutes, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
On Videos: Challenges & Opportunities

3|26|15   |   5:56   |   (0) comments


Most everything is now connected. And along with 4K and 4G technologies, everyone could be creating and broadcasting video contents. Users are expecting better video experience with any screen, anywhere and anytime. Operators will meet new challenges, but also see some big opportunities.
LRTV Custom TV
JDSU: Delivering Dynamic Networks for a Personalized Experience

3|26|15   |   5:59   |   (0) comments


Light Reading speaks to JDSU at Mobile World Congress 2015 about new solutions in the areas of HetNets, VoLTE, backhaul, virtualization, big data analytics, and real-time intelligence.
LRTV Custom TV
Smarter Service Chaining & New Ways to Benefit From Qosmos Technology

3|25|15   |   03:11   |   (0) comments


David Le Goff, director of strategic and product marketing at Qosmos, explains how the company has added application awareness to subscriber information to make service chaining more efficient and reduce costs for networking and infrastructure. In addition, Qosmos technology, which has been delivered as C libraries, is now also available as a virtual machine, ...
Between the CEOs
Qosmos CEO: The Changing Face of DPI

3|24|15   |   13:53   |   (0) comments


LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures. Also, how the comms market is becoming more like the automotive industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FC Schalke Scores With Its Agile Stadium

3|24|15   |   6:23   |   (0) comments


Top German soccer club FC Schalke 04 has deployed a new, agile WiFi network from Huawei in its Veltins-Arena stadium and is reaping the benefits in terms of customer satisfaction and business opportunities, explains marketing chief Alexander Jobst.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Insights on Mobile Video

3|24|15   |   7:51   |   (0) comments


More people than ever are now watching videos on smartphones. Seventy percent of mobile traffic will be video traffic until 2018. In this video, Huawei's exports give their insights on mobile video in terms of business model, network planning and 4G network construction.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Industry 4.0

3|24|15   |   02:26   |   (9) comments


Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution? It's a big deal for influential operators such as Deutsche Telekom.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Getting Connected With eLTE

3|23|15   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Trunked radio communications have entered the 4G LTE world, and with Huawei's eLTE solution, can now deliver a full range of data and video services as well as push-to-talk voice, explains Huawei's Norman Frisch.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Funkwerk’s on Track With Huawei

3|19|15   |   3:23   |   (0) comments


GSM-R technology specialist Funkwerk and Huawei have forged a partnership that is benefiting both parties, notes Funkwerk's Gottfried Winter.
LRTV Documentaries
How EANTC Tested Cisco's Virtualization Solutions

3|18|15   |   5:49   |   (0) comments


Carsten Rossenhövel, managing director of independent test lab EANTC, tells Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the innovative approach his team had to take when validating Cisco's service provider virtualization and cloud solutions.
Upcoming Live Events
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 5, 2015, Hyatt McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
May 6, 2015, Georgia World Congress, Atlanta, GA
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
AT&T Woos SMBs With Small-Scale WiFi
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 3/26/2015
Just Don't Say IBM Is 'Relaunching' Networking Business
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 3/26/2015
The Rise of Industry 4.0
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 3/24/2015
Google Hires Wall Street's Most Influential Woman as CFO
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/24/2015
Average US Broadband Speeds No Great Shakes
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 3/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
LR CEO and Founder Steve Saunders sits down with the head of Qosmos to talk about the changing state of the art in deep packet inspection technology, including its role in SDN and NFV architectures.
Chattanooga’s EPB publicly owned utility comms company has become a poster child for how to enable a local economy using next-gen networking technology. Steve Saunders, Founder of Light Reading, sits down with Harold DePriest, president and CEO of EPB, to learn how EPB is bringing big time tech to small town America.
Cats with Phones
Interspecies Phone Love Click Here
"No, you hang up."
"No, YOU hang up."
Latest Comment