The 4G network is coming!

22 March 2011

The government are ready to get busy with the mobile data revolution (or so we heard someone say on the bus earlier) and are figuring out how to sell the 4G wireless network spectrum.

data-tng Once it has been sold and is operational, it should mean faster downloading speeds for those of us who like to use our data-guzzling devices while on the move. The parts of the spectrum that will be sold are the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bandwiths (no, us neither) – the old analogue television bits, which are being switched off in 2012.

Obviously, we’re expecting to have to pay through the nose to get access to this magical super-fast 4G data once it becomes available to the consumer, and the mobile service providers might well smack us about the head with more data caps as they do with the current 3G system.

It’ll probably cost us because it’s definitely going to cost them – the 3G auction back in 2000 raised £22.5 billion for the Treasury, and they’ll be keen to get an even mightier sum when the bidding kicks off in early 2012.

Ofcom are putting a few caveats in place for winning bidders to adhere to – a licensee will have to agree to cover at least 95% of the UK population with their network and a certain proportion of rural areas will also have to be covered.

Are YOU planning to bid for part of the 4G network? Tell us your plans if you are.

TOPICS:   Broadband   UK News   Privacy


  • Delenn
    I for one would prefer they use the old bits of the analogue TV spectrum for more Freeview HD muxes. In the not-so-distant future, HD will become standard, and Freeview will become left behind. But of course, the government think the phone companies will be parting with that much money, and so Freeview gets sharfted. Can't see the phone companies paying that much this time round.
  • Daedalus
    I certainly won't be gunning for this. The networks are under an incredible amount of strain right now financially, cutting costs, loosing staff, closing shops, increasing phone & tariff prices all over the place. And then Johnny Average decides he wants faster access to Facebook on his iPhone so he demands 'more, more, more!' and starts raging that everyone wants 4G. Unless the Government are going to pay for it themselves this time, the greedy fuckers, then 4G can wait until the companys are stable. What the point of a network having 4G if it then collapses and goes under, leaving millions without what has now become a lifeline.
  • Marketing W.
    You kidding? Omigod I'll definitely be bidding. 40Mb download speeds over your mobile for a tenner a month. Oh yeah, but your limit is 250Mb. Anything over that is £50 a month, bokay?
  • Tim
    3G doesn't deliver as it is. Rubbish signals and even when you get full bars on 3G you can still end up waiting for a web site to download like it's on a 9600 modem! More so if you're on the move (e.g. a train). And what definition of 4G are we talking about? There are many.
  • Darren S.
    As potentially exciting as 4G is in terms of being able to stream radio to my phone when I'm out and about, without stopping to buffer all the time, as it does on 3G (well, on O2 it does, but that's a different story), I can't help thinking that the providers would be better off putting money into setting up better wifi networks.
  • M4RKM
    Finally! The mobile networks will still bid for this, but at a much lower price than they paid for 3G networks. Of course they're cutting retail staff, when the high street is dying on its arse. And yes, they should be doing this, otherwise the UK will be left behind yet again, like we have been in fixed line broadband. In major cities in the US, they already have their 4g networks, and fast they are.
  • Silver
    Well I hope it is better than the current 3G debacle. Much lower coverage levels than they originally said (the whole country is far from bathed in 3G glory) and the data caps are ridiculous! Unless they improve the caps then it will be like a Ferrari V12 with a 6 litre petrol tank that you are only allowed to fill once a month. Yes, you can go fast for a bit then you run out of juice and come to a shuddering halt.
  • Justin
    To be honest, I'm just glad the government has wised up and decided to put on some caveats of coverage. Back during the 3G bids I really hopped they'd GIVEN the licenses away, but with regulation to ensure that we'd pay the same amount incoming/outgoing as a landline / ISP. Surely the GDP of the country would rise with a world-beating wireless service exceeding the 22bn cost.
  • Tweedskin
    @Delenn Get a grip! HD is already a standard. Freeview HD is already available in London and will be available all over the country by 2012. The frequency for HD transmission is already being used so you don't need to worry about it being lost. @Daedalus What are you talking about?! The networks are under constant strain because they can ONLY use the 3G and HSPA (or 3.5G if you prefer) spectrums. Once 4G has been auctioned off, they can then use the extra frequencies to deliver faster speeds that compliment 3G and 3.5G. It will take many many more users to bring a 4G (or fourth generation in case you don't know what 4G stands for) network down. Think of it this way, it's like upgrading your broadband from copper to fibre optic. Higher speeds, more bandwidth.
  • Delenn
    @Tweedskin I have a grip. How many of the channels on Freeview are in HD? How many of the channels on Freeview are not in HD? How many of the channels on Freeview will NEVER be in HD because the government sold off the bandwidth?
  • klingelton
    privatise the rail networks, privatise the NHS. privatise the airwaves. soon our government will be as toothless as a regulatory body.
  • PokeHerPete
    The internet is the invention of satan..
  • Satan
    Don't blame me
  • Tweedskin
    @ Delenn How many of the channels on Freeview are in HD? None because the spectrum doesn't support it. If you are asking how many channels are HD on FREEVIEW HD, then the answer is 4 - BBC HD, ITV 1 HD, 4HD and S4C Clirlun (in Wales). How many of the channels on Freeview are not in HD? Many, and the same number are available on FREEVIEW HD in SD format. How many of the channels on Freeview will NEVER be in HD because the government sold off the bandwidth? This depends on which broadcasters wish to transmit in HD. During 2011, Ofcom intends to give the Commercial Public Service Broadcasters another opportunity to apply to provide an additional HD service from 2012.
  • whatever
    And there is the issue - S fecking D - a large step backwards in quality, reduced quality broadcast so they can cram in HD channels. BBC bbc2 and a few others are not broadcast in the lowest form of SD unlike C5 channel 4 etc go look at 720p and the same programme lets choose BBC and BBC hd on a averidge spec TV - any real great differance at proper viewing distance - erm no not really - yet all the bulls^it adverts (im not caling it HD) thats b^llocks - 720P vs SD (shit definitaion). god i miss my old anologue toshiba tv bring back colour bleed FFS 11 years since 3G its only just started to gain momentum - how long do you think it will take nokia ericson to add cabs and get the ~LTE up and running to any usable standard
  • Delenn
    @Tweedskin Now I know you are being obtuse. trying to win points because I did not differentiate between Freeview and Freeview HD (I remind you both are merely branding - they are in fact the same). Your comment "the spectrum doesn't support it" only goes to show your lack of knowledge here - all 6 multiplexes currently in use co-exist on the same spectrum. I know I am feeding a troll at this point, so this is my last comment on the issue. My point is that at some point in the near future, ALL channels will be in HD, and there are only 3 platforms capable of achieving this - Sky, Freesat and Cable. (And before you go getting picky about the amount of available bandwidth now, there is not enough now, but there could well be). Is there enough bandwidth, even doing SFNs, to have all the channels on Freeview in HD, once the government sell some of the bandwidth off. No. So back to my original point, they should not sell it off to phone companies, they should keep it for TV, otherwise we will have a whole sector of society that are deprived of HD signals for a decent number of free channels in the future.
  • Tweedskin
    @Delenn I'm no troll and true I don't have as much understanding of the issue as you do, made evident by your last point. There was no attempt at point scoring, I was trying to answer the questions you asked to the best of my knowledge. I've been served.
  • Delenn
    @Tweedskin In that case, I apologise to you for my aggressive response. It was uncalled for.
  • Tweedskin
    @Delenn I'm glad we can put this whole sordid affair behind us and I welcome a new era of peace and friendship.
  • Hans B.
    Tweedskin definitely does not have WMD's.
  • Tim
    @M4RKM - problem is the US has one (or more?) standard of 4G. We're going to end up with a situation of mobile devices working on some 4G networks and not others, or otherwise having to have many more transmitters and receivers in the phone covering all the network types & bands.
  • callum
    Presumably that will just eventually end up how they did with 2G (with the whole dual/tri/quad band thing) - 4G phones will slowly begin to have both technologies in the same phone so you can use it in either place.
  • Brad
    Fuck it! ill bid for it, how much they worth £20? £30 quid?
  • belly f.
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