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No 4G In UK Until 2015 – Ofcom

David Gilbert by

No 4G In UK Until 2015 – Ofcom

The UK telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has just published its draft plan for 2012/2013 and as part of its look forward has said a 4G network won’t be “widely available” until 2015.

If its original plans had come to fruition, the auction for the 4G spectum should have taken place already and we could have been looking forward to a 4G network being up and running in time for next year’s Olympics.

As it is, the auction has yet to take place, and whether or not it will even happen during 2012 is up for debate. The delay has come about partly due to delays in the consultation process initiated by Ofcom and partly because some networks are throwing their toys out of the prams in relation to how the auction will work.

The issue centres around Three, which unlike the other major operators (O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere) will probably need some assistance to get its 4G network up-and-running. Three has no spare spectrum available to it which it could re-allocate to 4G, while the others do.

The other networks are complaining that Three should not get what is effectively state-aid, which would give it a competitive advantage. This has caused the auction to be delayed indefinitely and means we won’t be getting a proper 4G network for just over three years.

Ofcom does say that some 4G coverage will be available in 2013 and even more in 2014, but that will be limited to pockets here and there.

By the time the UK’s 4G network rolls out, it could be five years after a similar network became available in the US, Japan and elsewhere. While trials are taking place sporadically around the UK at the moment, it seems as if we’ll have to wait quite a while before we get 4G coverage.

Source: Ofcom

Go to comments


December 14, 2011, 5:23 am

I'd be delighted if someone would let me know when the networks plan on delivering their promises on UK 3G speeds and coverage from 10 years ago. 3G coverage is still shocking patchy and slow in areas of large populations, leave those densely populated areas and on the whole it just gets worse. By the time 4G comes around it'll be about as effective as building a 4th lane on the M25 was. Massive congestion at peak times still bring the system to its knees, the rest of the time it will barely just cope. Whilst i'm on this rant, I'm fed up with seeing smarmy telco representatives on TV demonstrating 4G products & then claiming that they will be the saviour of the mobile world...cut to a 4G dongle on a laptop 'demonstrating' 6 gazzilion MB/s download speeds with a contention ratio of 1! By the time this rolls out it will be on the verge of being obsolete and saturated and we'll all be trapped in this cycle of paying high prices to cover the telco's hardware upgrades and licence fees for spectrum space...all over again! We need to speed this whole process up, quick smart! (a bit like the site maintenance here too!)

Tim Sutton

December 14, 2011, 6:59 am

I'm confused. So are we getting a full-on 4G system in 2015 and skipping LTE and LTEA entirely, or is LTEA now in fact being referred to as 4G and not appearing properly till 2015? If LTEA is now the 4G standard, how flippin' big will MIMO antenna phones have to be to get a decent signal? And if it really isn't going to show until 2015, won't every single person in the UK just be using femtocells by then anyway? This whole process seems full of stupid.


December 14, 2011, 12:21 pm

Maybe the UK should try sorting out it's shamefull 3G coverage first!

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