Eleven new UK GSM mobile carriers

Hold on, who on earth is CyberPress?

Ofcom has announced that it will award some "thin" mobile phone franchises in May; and the winners include - beside the usual suspects, a company called CyberPress. Is that Pipex?

The bidders are named in the 1781 awards list published today. Micro-cells are the most likely applications, and potential applications for these bands include private GSM networks in office buildings or campuses; most mobile phones operate at these frequencies, Ofcom said.

Dean Bubley at Disruptive Analysis said: "These are 'thin' low-power 1800MHz GSM spectrum licences, which could enable deployment of some innovative business models, using technologies like picocells for indoor cellular services, along with normal low-cost handsets."

Exactly what it will mean, is still far from clear, Bubley said. He listed his guesses as follows:

  • The price for making GSM calls when users are not actually "mobile" but nomadic (ie at home/work) will plummet. "This has already happened up to a point, but will now accelerate further, especially given other initiatives like dual-mode Fusion-type service launches and (probably) Genion-style HomeZones."
  • We're going to see businesses exert a much greater level of power over mobile operators. "If large enterprises and government bodies have a choice of 16 mobile operators (and probably countless MVNOs), it seems very likely that corporate cellular tariffs will cease to be such a burden on CIOs' telecom budgets."
  • it's going to be tricky: "It'll probably take longer to get things up and running than everyone expects. For example, does anyone know what happens when a phone's "network selection" menu has 10+ options shown? Were the menus even designed to cope with that many, perhaps scrolling onto another page?"
  • a lot of companies that have been ignoring picocells and femtocells are going to sit up and take notice.
  • lots of network security equipment vendors will have to get their act together. 'Remember the fuss a few years ago when people were plugging "rogue WiFi access points' into enterprise networks & PCs? Welcome to guerilla wireless v2.0 , only this time with cellular."

Bubley said in his blog that he was particularly fascinated by the appearance of a new bidder in the race: Cyberpress. That looks to be either a French-based media company, or a Pipex spinoff.

"Interestingly, it appears on the Pipex CEO's list of current directorships, though," Bubley said.

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