Process Diagram

What will 4G Mean for You?


Date: Monday 11th March 2013

With new apps and mobile internet allowing us to do more and more on our mobile phones, it is not only mobile phone handset technology that needs to keep evolving, but the data networks too. Most of us will remember when mobile phones were simply used to call friends. Thanks to the launch of a super-fast mobile network launched in the UK, opening web pages in a split second and watching TV will soon be a reality for the UK population.

The country’s largest Mobile Phone operator, EE, has launched the service in 10 British cities in an attempt to obtain a bigger slice of the market than the 34% it already controls through its Orange and T-Mobile brands. Let’s explore the evolution of the phone network’s data networks. Every decade or so has brought us a new generation of mobile phone technology. 1G brought us the 1980’s “brick-like” phones which were immortalised with the yuppies, and their Filofaxes. Derek Trotter owned a 1G phone too. The 1990’s witnessed the birth of the 2G network. This new technology meant that the size of mobile phones became smaller. New designs were introduced, phones started to slide and flip open. In the 2000’s 3G network technology meant that phones became ‘smart’ and able to effectively use the internet. Emails could be checked on the go and websites could be browsed - a huge development. Now in 2012 we have 4G: the next step.

4G connection will give your mobile phone an internet connection similar to that of a desktop computer, meaning watching TV, playing online games, and video calling on the go will become as easy as it is at home. In layman’s terms, 4G will do all this by squeezing larger amounts of data over radio waves.

The 4G auction took five years to organise and involved 50 rounds of bidding by seven rivals in one of the most complicated and intricate auctions ever performed.

George Osbourne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was expecting the auction to raise around £3.5bn for the government’s coffers, but in reality it only made £2.3bn ??" which is nothing in comparison to the £22bn that the 3G licence raised.

The main mobile networks have managed to outbid their opponents and gain specific gigahertz ranges to roll out their respective 4G services ??" where analogue TV used to occupy in the airwaves.

BT gained some 4G air space but explained that, rather than using it to launch a customer-driven 4G strategy, it would be using the space to improve their current services; and paying £186,476,000 for the privilege!

The Three network paid £255m for two 5MHz slices of the 800MHz pie, which will go with their share they already bought from EE in 2012.

EE paid almost £600m for two 5MHz pieces in the 800MHz band and two 35MHz pieces of the 2.6GHz band.

Lastly but by no means least, Vodafone paid the most for the most allocation across the 4G spectrum. Almost £800m was spent with two 10MHz pieces in the 800MHz band, two 20MHz and a 25MHz piece in the 2.6GHz band.

It looks like 4G is going to be an expensive luxury initially, hopefully with prices being reduced as time goes on.

But it looks like Vodafone is going to be the network to beat for 4G connectivity, with increased national coverage, a massive amount of freed up spectrum for now and the foreseeable future.

How will the networks assign their frequencies to the acquired spectrum, in a race against time to offer the UK an unrivalled 4G experience, which then leads me to ask what will the networks marketing strategies be moving forward, and who will cross the finishing line with the most amount of subscribers?

Expanding on the uses of 4G connectivity not only is this exciting how this technology increases download speeds for the consumer, but how this will develop businesses in the ever expanding M2M market, is it the right time for your business to start considering the possibilities and a change of infrastructure, utilising this powerful technology… How will you use 4G?

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