How 4G may come early
Fourth-generation mobile services could be launched in the UK as early as the end of this year by network operator Everything Everywhere, if Ofcom grants regulatory approval. The company, which runs the UK Orange and T-Mobile services, hopes to use its existing spectrum at 1800 MHz for LTE coverage, enabling a service to begin without waiting for the results of Ofcom's coming auction of ‘digital dividend' frequencies.
Ofcom intends to issue a licence variation allowing the use of LTE and WiMAX in the band, but has issued a public consultation document seeking views on the change. In the document, the regulator explains that a European decision on harmonization requires EU member states to make 900 and 1800 MHz spectrum avalable for 4G technologies.
Everything Everywhere is planning a new trial from next month in the Bristol area to test LTE at 1800MHz, in both urban and suburban environments. An existing customer trial of 4G technology over 800 MHz spectrum in rural Cornwall, launched last September, has recently been extended to July. Meanwhile, Everything Everywhere is continuing its roll-out of a nationwide HSPA (3.5G) network to bring a 50 per cent speed improvement for T-Mobile and Orange mobile broadband customers.
"Everything Everywhere's vision is to launch 4G for Britain as soon as possible, and the rollout of 3.5G HSPA and our 4G trials across Britain are major steps towards delivering on that promise", commented chief executive Olaf Swantee. "There is a great opportunity for the UK to have the 21st Century network that it so deserves, putting the nation on a level playing field with other parts of Europe, the USA and Asia."
Everything Everywhere is also upgrading its backhaul network to cope with increasing data traffic loads. In December it announced the introduction of Gigabit Ethernet technology.