Feeds

UK auction delay would be major blow to WiMAX

Industry could lose headstart over LTE

High performance access to file storage

The UK’s upcoming auction of 2.GHz mobile broadband spectrum is intensely anticipated - partly because it is the first major European market to make the move, and so will provide some clear indicators for the rest of the region; but also because it represents the best chance for a WiMAX operator to gain a national licence in a leading EU economy.

But the auction, which has already been delayed once and is now expected this fall, may now be postponed again, as T-Mobile launches legal action to force regulator Ofcom to hold back on the sale until it has finalised its rules on the refarming of 900MHz GSM spectrum.

The UK 3G operators have no particular desire to see an early auction. If BT (or another bidder from outside their ranks) does win spectrum, they will have to face yet another competitor in a hugely pressurized market at an early stage. And they do not have an urgent need for 2.6GHz themselves yet – most are just rolling out HSPA and the 3G networks are not at capacity, and are performing pretty well in terms of most mobile data services.

Since the five cellcos will almost certainly use Long Term Evolution (LTE) if they get 2.6GHz licences, they will not be able to start build-out for at least another 18 months anyway. In the meantime they will hope that economic uncertainty will prove a blessing in disguise, at least in terms of driving down spectrum costs, and that they will be able to assist that downwards pressure further with tactics like network or spectrum sharing deals.

Blow to WiMAX

For WiMAX vendors and other supporters, a delay in this flagship auction would be a major blow. To get any inroads into mature mobile markets, WiMAX needs to exploit its availability headstart over LTE, since the two technologies are very similar in what they actually deliver, and LTE is a more natural choice for 3G operators (commercially if not technically). But the advantage of having systems ready to purchase, probably 18 months ahead of LTE, is pointless if potential customers cannot get their hands on suitable spectrum. If the operators have to wait for a year or more for auctions, the playing field with LTE will have levelled, even for non-3G carriers.

The UK has been the great white hope for WiMAX in the west European UMTS heartland. This is because, unusually, incumbent telco BT has no mobile arm, and so is likely to bid for a licence - and if it wins, to adopt WiMAX rather than LTE in order to gain a headstart in its chosen business model.

BT has made it clear it will drop out of the race if prices go insanely high, as they did during the 3G auctions at the turn of the century, but it is still widely expected to acquire a licence, since wireless would enhance several of its businesses. While it would be craziness to launch a retail mobile brand against the five existing ones – especially as several of these are no BT customer on the backhaul and convergence front – BT could use an advanced mobile broadband network to support enterprise multimedia services for fixed/mobile offerings to enhance its fixed broadband business, and as a wholesale network for innovative providers, media players, public sector initiatives, and any cellco that does not gain its own 2.6GHz licences.

As BT rolls out its 21CN all-IP network, it will be impatient to know whether it can include broadband wireless in its service plans for 2009 onwards, and an auction delay would be a frustration. It would also make it more likely that, if it has to wait, BT would decide to go with the LTE mainstream and simplify aspects like roaming with other European carriers.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Next page: T-Mobile’s case

More from The Register

next story
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
Broadband Secretary of SHEEP sensationally quits Cabinet
Maria Miller finally resigns over expenses row
EE dismisses DATA-BURNING glitch with Orange Mail app
Bug quietly slurps PAYG credit - yet EE denies it exists
Like Google, Comcast might roll its own mobile voice network
Says anything's possible if regulators approve merger with Time Warner
Turnbull leaves Australia's broadband blackspots in the dark
New Statement of Expectations to NBN Co offers get-out clauses for blackspot builds
Facebook claims 100 MEEELLION active users in India
Who needs China when you've got the next billion in your sights?
Facebook splats in-app chat, whacks brats into crack yakety-yak app
Jibber-jabbering addicts turfed out just as Zuck warned
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.