Everything Everywhere LTE Launch

The Ofcom decision to allow Everything Everywhere to launch an LTE (4G) service on its existing 1,800MHz spectrum has resulted in lots of press coverage this week (here’s me in the the Telegraph) and complaints from the other operators who have to wait for the auctions in the new year.

I can see both sides of the argument and like it or not I agree with the Ofcom decision to let them get on with the launch. We have to get these services out there so we can all start using them. I expect there to be no further delays in the auction process after this.

The big question in my mind is what the LTE packages are going to look like. I could be wrong but I sense that EE is not going to launch very fast services because speed uses up more of the spectrum. My bet is that the services will be perhaps 10 or 15Mbps using smaller chunks of spectrum and not the whizz bang speeds the technoogy can actually achieve.

10 – 15Mbps is still a lot faster than what we have already and allows the operator to offer faster services downstream without having to change its infrastructure. EE could alternatively offer the faster services at launch but at a premium. When it comes to it we don’t actually need 40Mbps (say) on our phones. What we will notice is the faster response rate at 10 – 15Mbps than we currently get.

Offering a speed that is not orders of magnitude faster than the existing services will also help prevent network congestion although the EE infrastructure has had a huge capacity upgrade in readiness for the launch.

The other interesting thing to look out for will be the pricing or more specifically how much data usage you will get for your money. Also which handsets will be supported?

Not long to wait now. Although Timico is an O2 and Vodafone house I will be getting myself an EE 4G SIM to play with.

That’s all folks…

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  1. That’s assuming that EE even advertise a speed. Given the ASA’s tedious extension of speed rules to mobile operators then they, like fixed line providers, might instead opt to promote 4G more vaguely as a “faster” service than 3G.

    I won’t mind, just so long as they don’t do the worst possible thing by advertising the technologies theoretical capability. Real-world mobile performance is considerably more difficult to estimate than a static fixed line connection.

  2. What is the point in paying for the limited upload on a phone line if you can do it all through mobile faster? if its a fraction as good as they say it is everyone will bin their landlines? Then the cells will get choked up and we’re back to square one? or will the data charges for mobile stop people getting rid of landlines for broadband? Is this a reason why ofcom have delayed the release so openreach could catch up with fttc deployment? There are so many wheels within wheels in the telco world, I was just wondering if you had any insights?

  3. I don’t think it’s just a question of faster speeds on smartphones. 4G potentially allows much faster speeds via dongles, WiBEs mifis, etc, for people in rural areas than their current landlines are capable of. Of course, this raises two very big questions. Will the rural areas be the last to benefit, as they have been with most previous technologies? and, will the network be choked so these benefits can’t be realised. I suspect the providers will go first for the urban markets which they will perceive as offering the quickest returns. It would be nice to think that they might aim for rural first as that’s where the greatest benefits will be felt.

  4. Good thoughts John. Added to that, what will the new WiBes, MiFis etc cost? I know new ipads have 4G now, but will people be able to buy smartphones with it or will they be locked into old contracts? What do you think folk would have to spend to use the 4G, and what do you think the data caps would be?
    As you are very experienced using 3g now, do you think 4G will have the same issues or will stuff work better simply because it is faster and congestion gets shoved through quicker, or will the mere fact its faster encourage more to do more and therefore bung it all up again?

  5. Trefor Davies tref

    I doubt they will serve the rurals first unless forced to do so by Ofcom. Also my guess is that it will generally be a lot easier to grow capacity because they are using Ethernet whereas previous backbones employed ATM which is harder and more expensive to scale.

  6. Javed

    Being a T-Mobile customer for yonks, I am quite excited that EE is getting the go ahead for LTE. Also since the next gen iPhone is due to be available next month – I can see exciting times ahead but at the same time a little nervous as to what to expect from a merger between TMobile and Orange.

    I agree, with your Tref, will I really need to have a 40Mbps connection on a mobile device? 10Mbps will be clearly enough as there will be no delays in streaming video or accesing media content.

  7. Whether you can use the new iPhone, iPad etc depends on whether it supports EE’s spectrum, which is 1800MHz. Fanboys need to hope that Apple brings out devices that support tri-band devices in the 800, 1800 and 2600MHz bands, which if Apple is smart, is what it should do if it wants to tackle the GSM world. But if it thinks only of North America and China, prepare to be disappointed.
    In any case, 4G devices are gong to be more expensive than equivalent 3G devices because there are smaller economies of scale in 4G (3x different devices, says Alcatel-Lucent’s Ben Verwaayen).
    Also, be interesting to see if the 4G operators offer voice services, or will they still block Skype and other VoIP. Also not clear is their policy on data caps.I expect none to start with, and for them to come in later to try to limit congestion.

  8. MarkR

    I believe my Motorola Atrix is 4g capable already. Unless they built a special model for Orange.
    (oh Atrix 1 – not Atrix 2, had it for about a year now)

    So if EE is Orange and I have an atrix now would I be able to use 4G as soon as it is active?
    Already my phone switches to t-mobile if O-range is out of range.

    I guess I would have to sign up to a new SIM contract.

    Mark

    1. Trefor Davies tref

      I wouldn’t bet on your old phone working though you never know. In my mind it is quite significant that EE has a big 4G launch meeting coming up next week coinciding with the launch of the iPhone5. You should be able to get it via Orange or TMobile I would expect.

  9. 1800LTE is a sweetspot for LTE, everyone is going to support it (and we see Apple already doing so).

    Neil.

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