Celebrating the Launch of 4G in the UK
EE, the UK mobile operator formerly known as Everything Everywhere will go live to customers on 30 October 2012 due to initially launch in 10 cities across the country, and will cover 16 cities by the end of the year. Further towns, cities and rural areas will follow rapidly with coverage to reach 98% by 2014.
“This is a significant milestone for the United Kingdom, and for the people and businesses of our country who will now be able to enjoy the huge advantages of superfast 4G technology for the first time,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE.
EE will be the first mobile operator to launch a commercial LTE service in the UK. EE will use its existing 1800MHz spectrum to launch 4G services, rather than waiting for the auction of spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, scheduled for January 2013.
The UK's first 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) network was launched in Swindon, Southwark and Reading earlier in October by Now Broadband, a service offered by wireless provider UK Broadband, has announced that its 4G wireless broadband is now available to residents and businesses in these areas. The fixed wireless 4G LTE broadband service offers superfast broadband via a home router, an alternative to a fixed broadband connection.
Ofcom are due to accelerate the auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz, to enable other operators to launch their own 4G networks sooner rather than later and have announced that this spectrum will now be cleared and ready for 4G mobile services across much of the UK five months earlier than previously planned – from Spring 2013. The regulator said that this has only become possible in the past few months as a result of the significant progress that has been made to date with the digital switchover and the clearance programme itself, which has been running ahead of schedule. The UK’s switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television completed last week with the last broadcast having been transmitted in Northern. Sadly this also concludes the demise of Ceefax. The shutdown marks the end of 70 years of analogue broadcasting since the first transmission was made on 2 November 1936.
Over the past five years, the UK has gradually been switching off its five national analogue TV channels, region by region, and replacing them with over 70 digital channels. The process has been run by Digital UK, broadcasters and transmission company Arqiva. The switchover to digital TV has freed up much needed capacity in the 800MHz spectrum band, which will be used for the delivery of 4G mobile services.
However research indicates that company IT spends could remain flat for another 12 months but that money may be reprioritised to mobile communications and cloud services. Andrew Horne, managing director for the Corporate Executive Board, said that at the moment over two thirds of IT budgets in 2013 were already allocated to maintenance and regulatory compliance, which he described as “essentially ‘keeping the lights on”, before a single new project could be started. He said this meant that the ability of companies to be innovative and set themselves apart from their competitors “would be challenging.”
When it comes to broadband, the government has carved up a £114m pot between 10 cities to provide 100Mbps access to businesses and consumers. However it doesn’t look like this will help it hit its own target of delivering superfast broadband to 90 per cent of business premises by 2015. Neither Oxford nor Cambridge will be covered in the initial roll out a it is targeted at cities by population.
EE Chief executive Olaf Swantee said the company's tariffs, could range from £36 for 500MB of data to £56 for 8GB, were about 10-20 per cent more than for equivalent 3G plans. He said it was a small premium to pay for up to five times faster connections.
The UK's major mobile operators have formed an alliance to limit the impact of 4G services on digital television reception. EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have created a company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, which will be responsible for ensuring that consumers continue to receive clear Freeview TV signals following the roll out of 4G mobile services in the 800MHz spectrum band from the Spring of next year.
A possible delay could be the governments concern over security if Huawei’s relationship with BT is investigated by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee, according to its chairman, Sir Malcolm Rifkind. An investigation would make the UK the latest country to question the security of Huawei’s equipment and the company’s links to the Chinese military and could potentially delay the rollout of fibre and 4G services in this country. It would also embarrass the government and Prime Minister David Cameron, who met with Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei at Downing Street last month, pledging to invest £1.3 billion in the UK over the next five years.