4G in the UK is a way off and with the current debate between the networks and Ofcom - who gets what spectrum and how much etc - we’re looking at playing the waiting game while the rest of the world gets 4G-compliant new iPads and faster download speeds.
Everything Everywhere isn’t keen on waiting; it's undergone live trials of 4G LTE services in urban and rural tests and has consistently urged Ofcom to hurry up the 4G spectrum auction.
The merged super-network formed of Orange and T-Mobile has commissioned a YouGov report that shows that the UK isn’t keen on waiting either. 74 per cent of British adults want 4G to come to the UK as soon as possible.
Olaf Swantee, CEO, Everything Everywhere, said in a statement: “Consumers are calling for the fast and reliable broadband that 4G LTE can provide – and they want it now. With nearly three dozen countries, including many parts of Europe, Asia and America having already rolled out 4G, it is imperative that the UK moves forward with building a 21st century digital infrastructure as soon as possible.”
The report also shows that 66 per cent of adults expressed the opinion that adopting 4G is essential for the UK to remain competitive. With the so-called UK Digital Economy in pretty rude health despite no 4G and welterweight broadband speeds compared to the rest of the world, there’s a strong argument for such an opinion.
58 per cent said they wanted 4G because they wanted to access faster internet connections on phones, tablets and mobile broadband devices. A further 45 per cent said that 4G was important for job creation - in areas where fibre optic broadband isn’t likely to be deployed, 4G/cellular broadband networks is considered an alternative.
UK 4G LTE and Ofcom: What’s the hold up?
There’s a number of factors involved in the UK’s 4G auction being stalled. Firstly, there’s competition. Ofcom is of the opinion that all four UK networks - O2, Orange and T-Mobile (as Everything Everywhere), Three and Vodafone - need a fair slice of the spectrum pie in order to keep competition healthy. More competition, lower prices for customers etc.
O2 and Vodafone are opposed to Three, the UK’s smallest network, getting as big a slice. Three has threatened legal action if it’s not allowed to compete on a level playing field.
As well as this, Ofcom also needs to consider the potential effects that 4G could have on Freeview signals while ruling on a separate proposal from Everything Everywhere to run 4G services on its existing 3G networks.
In the UK, the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum is being reserved for the use of 4G services. Everything Everywhere’s 3G services use the 1800MHz spectrum.