Feeds

Thank Freeview for UK 4G by mid-2013 - NOT the iPhone 5 nor EE

Telly retuning clears way for networks to join party early

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Ofcom will clear radio frequencies allowing UK network operators to launch 4G mobile broadband months ahead of schedule - even though it hasn't moved the 4G licence auction.

EE's monopoly on 4G coverage should end by June next year as a result of this, instead of the end of 2013 as first anticipated. This is thanks to phone-mast engineers at Arqiva rejigging the Freeview retuning schedule to provide January's 4G auction winners early access to their frequencies.

However, Blighty's communications watchdog is being unduly credited with negotiating a solution between EE and its rival network operators, and the breakthrough is painted as a government victory: we're told the Secretary for Fun Maria Miller pressured Ofcom and the operators into negotiating an agreement, motivated by the 4G monopoly given to EE. However, such a scenario falls down at the first hint of examination.

The announcement is no surprise - we reported it yesterday morning despite the participants apparently being locked in tense negotiations all day. But it's also worth looking at why Arqiva is able to change the timetable for clearing the 800MHz band, and how much pressure was needed to make that happen.

In fact the switch to digital television, which will leave that band empty, has gone remarkably well in the UK, unexpectedly well. Freeview has proved an enormous success, and manufacturers have created fantastically cheap boxes to convert the most elderly of TVs to digital, while the public has easily grasped the idea that such boxes are necessary.

The government has spent a good deal of cash educating people, and (strange as it sounds) that money has worked. In fact it's worked so well that there's dosh left over and some debate over what it should be spent on.

It's that smooth transition that has given Arqiva - which runs most of the UK's TV transmitter systems - the confidence to switch frequencies earlier than expected, a confidence which has nothing to do with the 4G monopoly given to EE nor the launch of Apple's iPhone 5.

The timetable to auction off licences for 4G mobile communications is immovable: it's not going to happen in 2012 no matter what because too many processes have been put into motion to let that happen. Network operators are still recruiting auction teams, negotiating with banks to raise funds, poring over network maps to decide which blocks best fit their existing infrastructure, and they need until January to do all that - so moving the auction forward would bring chaos.

The early release of the 4G bands at 800MHz is to be welcomed, but the idea that it was motivated by EE's monopoly or Apple's new iThingy is balderdash. The UK monopoly on 4G has motivated O2, Vodafone and Three to threaten legal action against Ofcom, and to rail against the unfairness of it all, but it’s the UK's interest in digital television that has made the early release possible. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?