Feeds

Ofcom clears deck for re-farming

Competition issues just evaporated

Seven Steps to Software Security

Ofcom is now recommending that the UK government let Vodafone and O2 run 3G networks at 900MHz, arguing that the creation of Everything Everywhere removes any threat to competition.

Last time the regulator looked at the question it concluded that as only Vodafone and O2 have 900MHz spectrum it would be unfair to let them use it for 3G services, given that T-Mobile, Orange and 3 paid top dollar for 2.1GHz spectrum on the basis that it was the only place where 3G was allowed. But now that Everything Everywhere exists, Ofcom reckons it can offer a credible competitor without 900MHz spectrum, by jumping to 4G technology at 800MHz.

900MHz is important because it has much greater range than 2.1GHz, and can penetrate buildings better too - Ofcom reckons you need twice the number of base stations to provide the same coverage. Given that Vodafone and O2 were allocated the 900MHz spectrum (rather than having to bid for it) it had been assumed that refarming (as the process of allowing 3G to operate at 900MHz is called) would only be allowed if they gave up some of that spectrum.

But no: now that Everything Everywhere exists it has twice the number of base stations, so Ofcom reckons it can provide the same coverage, and given that 3 is in the process of integrating its 3G network with Everything Everywhere (3 claims the reverse is true, but the result is the same) then the total coverage will be the same for all networks and everyone is a winner.

Particularly Vodafone and O2, who get to massively extend their 3G networks without having to spend any more money on radio spectrum, but what they don't get to do is deploy 4G (LTE) technology into that same space.

It had been assumed that Ofcom's modifications to the regulations would open up the 900MHz bands to any radio technology - the preferred way of licensing spectrum these days, but the rules being proposed by the regulator don't do that - they just add UMTS to the list of permitted technologies. A decade down the line we'll probably see Vodafone and O2 campaigning for another round of re-farming, while Everything Everywhere snaps up a load of digital dividend spectrum in next year's mega-auction.

3, meanwhile, remains stuck at 2.1GHz with a 3G network and an autonym-based objection to 4G technologies which will end up locked into the Digital Dividend (ex-analogue TV) spectrum once the regulator gets round to auctioning that off next year. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.