Tag Archives: ofcom

3 UK seeks High Court review of 5G auction rules

3 UK seeks High Court review of 5G auction rules – Mobile World Live 3 UK seeks High Court review of 5G auction rules – Mobile World Live

3 UK is set to launch a legal challenge against Ofcom’s rules for an upcoming 4G and 5G spectrum auction, which the operator said fails to address competition concerns.

A company representative confirmed it notified Ofcom of its intent to seek a judicial review in the UK’s High Court. It expects the process to be complete by early 2018 – a timeline it said would not impact the country’s 5G rollout timetable.

However, as the UK’s auctions for 4G and 5G spectrum were scheduled to be held by the end of 2017, legal action would significantly delay the allocation process.

In a statement, the company representative said: “It is absolutely vital that the regulator gets this auction right for the long-term benefit of all consumers. For a relatively short process, we feel it is a proportionate response to request an independent review of Ofcom’s proposal, which we feel unduly puts at risk its stated objective of a competitive four-player market and is to the detriment of UK consumers.”

The move comes as little surprise. 3 is a long-term critic of the division of spectrum in the UK and threatened action if Ofcom failed to address the market dominance of BT and Vodafone with its auction rules.

In its subsequent announcement, the regulator said it would impose a spectrum cap to limit the participation of the UK’s largest operators in the 3.4GHz band – earmarked for 5G. Its new rules also effectively banned EE from bidding on 40MHz of 2.3GHz spectrum also set to be allocated.

Following the announcement, 3 slammed Ofcom for not going far enough, with CEO Dave Dyson describing the rules as a “kick in the teeth” for consumers.

Although Telefonica’s O2 UK was also critical of Ofcom’s new guidelines, it appeared to rule out legal action, highlighting the importance of pressing ahead with the auction quickly.

Source: Mobile World Live

Ofcom Launches On-Line Mobile and Broadband Coverage Checker

  • Ofcom launches one-stop checker, using industry speeds and coverage data
  • New study compares performance of UK’s major mobile providers

People and businesses can check the quality and coverage of mobile and broadband services by postcode, using a powerful new interactive tool from Ofcom.

The Mobile and Broadband Checker uses coverage, availability and speeds data, collected directly by Ofcom from major communications providers. This has not been readily accessible to consumers and businesses before.

Simply by entering a postcode, users can check mobile coverage, the availability of superfast broadband and average download speeds – all in one place.

Ofcom’s original Mobile Coverage Checker, launched last year, has had more than 700,000 visits, helping users discover the quality of mobile coverage where they live and work.

The new tool includes latest information on mobile coverage, and adds important statistics on the availability and quality of home and office broadband in a given postcode. It shows:

  • whether superfast broadband services are available;
  • the average download speeds delivered by standard and superfast broadband;[2]
  • where there is coverage for voice calls, and 3G or 4G data networks; and
  • the quality of mobile coverage inside and outside of buildings.

Businesses looking to relocate or expand to new premises, as well as house-hunters, can use the tool to help assess the quality of communications services in different areas.

Similarly, customers looking to upgrade their broadband package can check whether faster services are locally available and, if so, how superfast and standard broadband speeds compare on average.

People and businesses can also investigate whether their existing broadband service is underperforming, by comparing their connection speed against the average for neighbouring properties. This could provide useful evidence when contacting a provider with a service problem.

Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “This interactive map is part of our work to arm people and businesses with high-quality, accessible information, helping them make informed decisions about their communications services.”

The checker is online now at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/check-coverage/

Smartphone cities report

Ofcom has also today published Smartphone Cities, a report comparing the mobile broadband and voice performance of the UK’s four national mobile providers – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

Testing was carried out in five cities across the UK – Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Norwich – between November and December 2015, using the latest available measuring equipment.

To capture a snapshot of ‘real-world’ service quality levels for 4G networks, a range of metrics were measured, reflecting the everyday usage habits of smartphone users.

These included download, upload and web-browsing speeds, video streaming quality, and phone call success rates.

The report is available to download from the Ofcom website.

Source: Ofcom

OFCOM announce more radio spectrum for the Internet of Things

Ofcom-HQUK Telecommunications and broadcasting regulator Ofcom, has announced measures to help ensure adequate spectrum is available for the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), and to encourage investment and innovation in this developing technology.

Ofcom is allocating 10 MHz of VHF spectrum which will enable certain IoT devices to connect wirelessly over long distances. Access to spectrum in this range could open new opportunities and bring benefits to consumers, especially those in remote and rural parts of the UK. The frequencies being made available span the 55-68 MHz, 70.5-71.5 MHz and 80.5-81.5 MHz bands.

These frequencies could be used by Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications to enable wireless operation over long distances and will help deliver valuable new services for the benefit UK consumers and businesses. The allocation will boost innovation across a number of different verticals including: agriculture, smart farming and an array of coastal and maritime industries.

According to the regulator, there are already more than 40 million devices connected via the IoT in the UK alone. This is forecast to grow more than eight-fold by 2022, with hundreds of millions of devices carrying out more than a billion daily data transactions.

The news follows the regulator’s release of a consultation document in September 2015, which invited stakeholders to comment on proposed changes the existing Business Radio licence to accommodate the IoT.

Sources: IoT Business News/Ofcom/ GSMA



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Ofcom boosts BT’s EE takeover bid; sees Hutch/O2 deal as potential stumbling block


BT’s proposed £12.5 billion takeover of EE received a boost from UK watchdog Ofcom after the regulator submitted a report to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) supporting the merger.
Ofcom, which does not have direct authority to approve the deal, advised the competition authority that concerns raised by rivals over the combined entities’ power did not merit intervention.

Within the 69 page submission, Ofcom further highlighted its own powers to deal with BT’s EE-log-Nov-2014potential dominance, as it seeks to combine its broadband business with EE, UK’s largest mobile player.

“We believe the current and future proposed regulation that we apply to BT will limit BT’s ability to discriminate over price, quality and innovation in the provision of leased lines,” Ofcom said.

Mobile rivals in the UK have claimed they will struggle to meet capacity demands as a result of the deal, and there are further fears over the large share of mobile airwaves a combined BT and EE will have at their disposal.

Ofcom dismissed the concerns, stating “that even though the addition of BT’s spectrum may increase the peak speeds BT/EE could offer, on its own EE is already able to provide higher peak speeds than other MNOs”.

“For potential advantages in terms of WiFi hotspots, access to backhaul and opportunities for cross selling and bundling, we do not consider these are sufficient to create competition concerns.”

In the fixed space, rivals including Sky and TalkTalk claim the combined entity would be able to undercut its services, limit the market’s MVNO options and impact backhaul supply.

“We recognise that, as a vertically integrated firm, BT may have the incentive to discriminate in favour of its downstream divisions, and we impose regulation to address such concerns,” added Ofcom.

Ofcom said last month it was seeking views on whether BT and its Openreach networking division should be separated “to deliver competition or wider benefits to the end user”.

Ofcom also drew on Hutchison’s proposed merger with O2 within the report, which could prove to be a stumbling block

The proposed deal is set to be scrutinised by European regulators and Ofcom said “the importance of BT as an independent competitor could depend on the outcome of the proposed Hutchison, O2 merger”.

If Hutchison’s deal to acquire O2 goes through, It would serve to reduce the UK market to three players, adding weight to the argument to keep EE and BT separate, as BT already operates in the mobile space.

Source: Mobile Word Live-Kavit Majithia

Ofcom preparing ground for new UK 4G auction

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has opened a consultation on an auction of spectrum that could be used for mobile broadband services and may take place by late-2015.

It said that while no specific use has been prescribed, the frequencies available in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands are “likely to interest the mobile industry”. The total proposed reserve price will be between £50 million and £70 million.

In a statement, Ofcom highlighted the fact the 2.3GHz band is being used for 4G networks in 10 countries outside of Europe, including China, India and Austria. Devices from Apple’s iPhone range, Samsung’s Galaxy line, and HTC’s Desire portfolio already support these frequencies.

And the 3.4GHz band is being used for wireless broadband services in six countries, including the UK, Canada and Spain.

Ofcom is planning to auction 190MHz of spectrum across the two bands – equivalent to around three-quarters of the airwaves made available in the 2013 4G auction.

It is proposing to split this into 38 lots of 5MHz, with bidders able to request a minimum bid of four lots per band. It is also mooting a “safeguard cap”, limiting operators’ mobile spectrum holdings to 37 per cent of relevant spectrum.

Due to the frequency bands on offer, the appeal is likely to be in providing capacity boosts in areas of heavy traffic, rather than expanding coverage into remote areas, where lower frequency bands have greater reach.

The spectrum being auctioned is currently in use by the UK Ministry of Defence, and is being made available as part of an initiative to free-up public-sector spectrum for commercial uses.

The consultation closes on 23 January 2015. It aims to carry out the auction late in 2015 or early in 2016.

Source: Mobile World Live

Ofcom critcised over £4.5bn ‘one-off tax’ on mobile operators

New fees for 2G airwaves threaten 4G rollout, report claims

Ofcom has overvalued the radio spectrum used by mobile operators’ 2G networks by more than three times to impose what amounts to a “one-off tax of £4.5bn”, a report by industry analysts has claimed.

The new fees have sparked anger from the operators, who argue they threaten the rollout of 4G mobile broadband networks. The total proposed fees of £309m per year are nearly five times the current burden on the industry and a total extra cost of £4.5bn over 20 years.

Operators need to maintain their 2G networks despite the rise of 3G and 4G mobile broadband because they are still used to carry voice calls and texts.

A report by Enders Analysis on the economics of 2G spectrum fees has now backed the operators’ criticism of Ofcom’s calculations, calling them “both harsh and unfair”. The research was commissioned by EE, Britain’s largest mobile network and a vocal critic of the regulator’s proposals.

The authors, led by Enders analyst James Barford, said: “We disagree with the detail of their [Ofcom’s] methodology on three key aspects, which makes the current proposed charges over three times too high in our view, effectively charging the industry a one-off tax of £4.5bn.

Source: , Technology, Media and Telecoms Editor Daily Telegraph

5G Innovation Centre plans move closer to reality

A consortium of key global players in telecommunications formally joins Surrey to develop 5G Innovation Centre.

Together pledging support worth over £30 million, the consortium officially signed an official partnership with the University of Surrey on 25 October. The group consists of some of the world’s leading mobile network operators, infrastructure and tools providers, media and communications organisations, as well as the UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom. It includes Aeroflex, AIRCOM International, BBC, BT, EE, Fujitsu Laboratories of Europe, Huawei, Rohde & Schwarz, Samsung, Telefonica and Vodafone.

The world’s first research centre dedicated to mobile technology, the 5G Innovation Centre will focus on the advanced technologies that will underpin the 5G network of the future. The project will also include the development of a 5G ‘test bed’, based on campus, which will enable technologies to be tested in a real-world environment.

The consortium’s pledged support of £30 million (which includes time, expertise and other contributions) is in addition to the £11.6 million awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) under the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) last autumn.

As a further boost to this major project, plans for the 5G Innovation Centre have now been granted planning permission, with preparatory building work now underway. The Centre will be built to high environmental standards, with an expected completion date of January 2015. Once completed, it will become home to 150 researchers and around 100 PhD students.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, Head of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research (CCSR), said: “We are delighted that the formal agreements are now in place and plans are underway to start turning the vision for a 5G Innovation Centre into a reality.

“Undoubtedly, 4G technologies are revolutionising mobile connectivity in the UK and will continue to do so over the next decade, but it is extremely important for us to find innovative ways of coping with the levels of mobile communications data traffic that are expected to continue rising. We will use state-of-the-art 4G as the starting point for our work and complement this with even more advanced technologies which place the user at the heart of the design process.

“By bringing together leading academics with heavyweight industry partners, I believe we can develop the technologies that are required to provide much-needed capacity, drive economic growth and actively contribute to and shape the future 5G system. Ultimately, our vision is to provide a consistent and reliable mobile communications service and create the perception of ‘infinite capacity’.”

Source: University of Surrey Press Office

Three annonces 4G rollout plans for 47 UK Cities

London, Manchester and the Midlands get Three 4G this year

Mobile phone operator Three has become the last to announce the launch of 4G services, saying it will offer them in four major cities by the end of 2013.

Three will start with London, Manchester, Reading and Birmingham.

A further 42 will follow by late 2014 as part of a drive to cover 90% of the UK’s population with 4G services by the end of 2015.

Comparing with other operators, EE already covers over 55% of the population, and O2 and Vodafone turned on their services in August.

Despite starting later than its larger rivals Three will not lose out, says Carrie Pawsey, senior communications analyst at the consultancy Ovum.

“In the early interim period it will make no difference. Apart from EE, the other networks won’t have a significantly larger coverage area.” But, she added, “Three is likely to have larger blackspots for 4G coverage in the long term.”

Three will be using a slice of the high-frequency 1800MHz band allocated for 4G which it won in an auction overseen by telecoms regulator Ofcom.

Three also bought 4G spectrum in Ofcom’s 4G auction in February at the 800MHz band, which has lower bandwidth than 1800MHz but longer reach.

Pawsey said: “It may hurt its market share in the long term, as the other networks expand to cover more of the country and are able to offer higher average speeds”

EE was first to launch a 4G service in the UK on 30 October 2012, well ahead of the Ofcom auction by “re-farming” spectrum it already owned on the 1800MHz band.

After an aggressive rollout, it now covers more than 100 towns around the UK and has over 1 million customers using 4G.

Source: Ben Sullivan CBR Online

Faster broadband coming to planes, trains and ships as UK eyes spectrum changes

The UK is looking to open up spectrum currently used by satellite Earth stations for vehicle-mounted stations that could boost broadband capacity in aircraft, ships and trains.

The UK’s communications regulator Ofcom is hoping to spur innovation in mobile broadband services by making it easier for satellite operators to use ‘Earth stations on mobile platforms’ (ESOMPs) to deliver passenger broadband.

Ofcom has proposed (PDF) three frequency bands that operators could apply for to support mobile Earth stations mounted on aircraft, ships or other land-based vehicles.

While alternative technologies are already used to provide wi-fi on board in transport, the regulator believes the spectrum could be used to provide links with higher capacity and spur a new market for mobile communications.

Several satellite operators are planning to launch commercial satellite networks in 2013 and 2014 that support the use of mobile earth stations transmitting in the 27.5GHz to 30GHz range, according to Ofcom.

Ofcom also points out that recent advances in stabilised antenna technology make it possible for earth station antennas to track a satellite in orbit even when it’s mounted on a fast moving platform.

While there was a risk the mobile Earth stations could cause interference to other fixed site satellite networks, Ofcom considered that risk “very low”. With the appropriate controls, the mobile stations would cause no more interference than fixed-site earth stations, it said.

It also notes that the aircraft and ship-mounted Earth stations can already operate in international airspace and waters, but that parts of these frequency ranges are used by terrestrial radio systems in some countries. That’s why Ofcom was proposing frequency ranges that are already authorised for satellite Earth station applications, such as the permanent Earth stations and high density fixed-satellite services.

Key proposals Ofcom is seeking feedback on under a public consultation are:

  • Radio equipment for land-based ESOMPs should be exempted from the need to have a Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 licence
  • Radio equipment for aircraft and ship mounted ESOMPs should be licensed under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 rather than licence-exempt
  • Licensing of aircraft-mounted ESOMPs should be done through variation of the aircraft radio licence issued on Ofcom’s behalf by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) with no additional fee
  • Licensing of ship-mounted ESOMPs should be done through variation of the ship radio licence with no additional fee.

The deadline for stakeholders to respond to the proposal is 10 October 2013 and Ofcom expects to release a statement on the consultation in December.

Source: Liam Tung ZDnet

Topics: Broadband, United Kingdom, Wi-Fi