4g broadband charitable Coast to Coast End User

Coast to coast walk broadband coverage

Coast to Coast broadband

Thought it would be interesting to see what the Coast to Coast broadband coverage was likely to be during our walk in May. It will be most inconvenient is I cant upload stuff at the end of each day. I’m assuming that the daytime coverage in the mountains will be largely on existent which is a bit of a shame as otherwise I’d be able to store my pics and videos as I go along.

I used the BT postcode checker, EE’s own website for mobile coverage  and the Ofcom coverage page. The results are below.

The places with very little or no bandwidth are small villages. The larger the place the more likely they are to have service. Obvs.

If I left out the place names and postcodes you could guess which stopping points were in National Parks and which weren’t. Clearly the inhabitants of these places have compensations to offset their poor internet access (innit @Cyberdoyle? 🙂 )

What I thought most amusing was that at our ultimate destination, Robin Hood’s Bay, the only network that apparently has 4G coverage is Vodafone and that is out at sea – see featured image. So if the tide is out people with Vodafone sims get good connectivity. Hopefully they have waterproof phones.

Day Place BT checker EE coverage Ofcom 4G checker
Saturday St Bees CA27 0DE 68Mbps 4G EE
Sunday Ennerdale Bridge CA23 3AR 1Mbps none EE nearby
Monday Seatoller CA12 5XQ 1Mbps none none
Tuesday Patterdale CA11 0PJ 80Mbps none none
Wednesday Shap CA10 3LX 33Mbps 4G EE good O2/Voda fair
Thursday Kirkby Stephen CA17 4QQ 78Mbs 4G EE
Friday Keld DL11 6LL 2Mbps none none
Saturday Reeth DL11 6SN 73Mbps 2G no data none
Sunday Richmond DL10 7AG 75Mbps 4G all good
Monday Ingleby Cross DL6 3LN 73Mbps 3G O2/Voda good EE sketchy
Tuesday Chop Gate (Clay Bank Top) TS9 7JF 10Mbps none none – all sketchy nearby
Wednesday Glaisedale YO21 2QL 10Mbps 3G Voda limited
Thursday Robin Hood’s Bay YO22 4RJ 46Mbps 3G Voda out at sea only!

Would have been better had I been able to represent this data graphically but I can’t so never mind.

Don’t forget I’m raising cash for Cancer Research UK whilst on this Coast to Coast walk JustGiving page here. The start date of the walk coincides with the anniversary of my mother’s death on May 1st last year. Mam was Chairman of the Marown & District branch of the IoM Anti Cancer Association.

4g broadband Business

Virgin Media Broadband Problem

Virgin Media Broadband Problem s R Us

I’m having a Virgin Media broadband problem. Took a skeet on my router and no WAN IP address was present. I haven’t bothered logging a fault as their website tells me there know about it – see featured image above. It’s been down since I got back from the dentist at around 10am.

In the meantime I’ve been using my phone as a portable hotspot connected to the EE 4G network. Since I got a 20GB data bundle for £20 a month (see here for story) I am totally comfortable with hammering the 4G connection. In fact you will see below that at 40Mbps down and almost 20Mbps up  I am getting a reasonable speed out of it – faster indeed than my old 80/20 FTTC line that only ever gave me 30/7.


The only problem I have is that my SIP deskphone doesn’t work and similarly neither do our SIP DECT phones that are the “landlines”.

This is a little bit of a nuisance as I use the SIP line to make free conference calls and to call my dear old dad in the Isle of Man. Mobile operators rip you off on calls to the IoM by not only treating them as international roaming calls but also outside the EU. Landline calls are treated as UK geo.

The only easy way to find out if the problem has been fixed is by occasionally trying my landline. Otherwise it’s a nuisance switching hotspots. The connection did come back momentarily but has now disappeared again.

I can get by using the 4G line and mobile calls but you can see why it is important for larger businesses to that they have robust connectivity. If I had an office full of people it would be worth paying for a second totally separate line for resilience/redundancy.

The Virgin service status page says estimated fix time is 14.20. Who wants a bet on whether it will be fixed by then?

4g End User

20GB Mobile Bundle Saga

to PAC or not to PAC – the 20GB Mobile Bundle

I found a new 20GB mobile bundle. My mobile deal with EE is out of contract. I took a look expecting to be able to get a much better deal than one year ago. Pricing didn’t seem radically different to a year ago. I was paying £18.50 for unlimited calls and texts and 2GB of data. Any offers seemed to only last for the first three months. So I looked around.

Vodafone had a deal for 20GB at £20 in the first year, reverting to £40 thereafter. With Voday you could also use your bundle in Europe for £3 a day. It’s the data I’m after. EE offer £2.50 for calls and texts in Europe but they make their money on the roaming data, assuming you use it. I don’t.

I trooped downtown into the Vodafone shop and signed up. The deal also gave me Sky Sports Mobile. Sorted.

Last night, from the comfort of the settee I called EE to ask for a PAC code. The EE guy matched Vodafone’s pricing and threw in free calls and texts within the EU. I said I needed some time to think about it and when I finished the call revisited the Vodafone package.

The deal breaker was the Sky Sports. I downloaded the app and set the account up. Blow me down it didn’t work. I tried it  number of times and eventually called Voda to sort it out. To cut a long story short the Sky Sports app doesn’t appear to be supported on my Oneplus 2. How does that work?

The upshot is that I called EE back, accepted their offer and today will be cancelling the new Vodafone contract. Hey…

I’ll have to make sure I look at my contract options in 11 months time but that is a mere calendar entry.

Now the advent of a 20GB mobile bundle does change things. I didn’t often get anywhere near my old 2GB limit but there again my mobile usage habits were tailored to the package. Photo and video uploads in particular were restricted to when I was in WiFi coverage. I have removed this restriction and it will be interesting to see how this affects cellular data usage.

I also used to switch Sat Nav on just for the moments that I needed it as this was also a heavy consumer of data. At least Google Maps was. I’d started using Waze instead which seems to be much lighter on data.

The other consideration of course is battery usage. Hitting 4G hard will inevitably use up the battery before I want it using up. I’ll report back.

As a footnote to this post, I was discussing the Oneplus 2 with the very pleasant and efficient Sophie in the Vodafone shop and remarked that the major downside was the fact that the screen seemed to scratch easily. Glancing at the phone I then realised that the original plastic screen protector was still on. Doh!

For the derogatory comments on their screen in a previous post I offer Oneplus my unreserved apologies. Sorry.


4g Business Mobile ofcom UC webrtc

WebRTC and the mobile reseller opportunity

The WebRTC opportunity for mobile sales dealers

So far in the ipcortex WebRTC week we’ve talked a lot about the impact that WebRTC will have on how we might communicate, as well as exploring some of the technical aspects of the technology. One thing that we’ve not really touched upon is the way that WebRTC will change the commercial comms ecosystem and, being browser based technology, how it will come to affect the mobile business market.

We invited Dave Stephens,  ‎Sales Manager at major O2 dealer Aerial Telephones to share his views on the current challenges in the business mobile market, diversification into unified communications and how WebRTC will impact the delivery of solutions that marry the two.

A changing market

mobile conversationThe business mobile market is in a difficult space right now. Monthly prices are falling whilst handset costs are rising dramatically; a situation made worse in the UK where by and large we still expect to be able to get a free handset with a new contract. Of course we all know the handset is not really free, rather subsidised by the selected tariff, but the result is that many mobile providers only seeing a profit in month 18 onwards.

This differs from  most other countries, where the norm is to select a tariff and then have to purchase the handset separately. While this alternative is beginning to creep into the UK market it’s proving to be a very difficult shift from the “free handset” culture that’s become so ingrained over the last fifteen years.

The business mobile world has also taken a few other hits recently. Non traditional mobile players are making real plans to infringe on the space. WhatsApp are now offering phone calls over 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, and Google have confirmed their intention to act as an MVNO (in the US at first). Their Project Fi will introduce pay-for-what-you-use data plans, where unused data allowance is credited at the end of the billing cycle. Add to this that within the last few months, Ofcom have proposed a dramatic cap on the price of mobile phone calls between different networks. This will reduce another revenue stream for most UK mobile providers.

For business mobile resellers, there is additional pressure in that many of them have seen their base being attacked by traditional IT or unified comms resellers. It is true that it is far easier for IT or UC resellers to move into the business mobile market than it for a mobile reseller to go the other way, which would take significant investment and upskilling.

Adapt or perish

ChameleonThis all contributes to an environment where companies in the mobile space must adapt or perish. This isn’t limited to resellers, either. It can even be seen at a mobile network operator level where even the big players are beginning to move into some very untraditional services such as hosted telephony, landline services and even hosted IT products.

For the opportunistic and imaginative reseller, however, moving into other areas of business comms like these can present significant benefits and is a challenge worth attempting. “Mobility” is a growing concern within the IT and Telecoms industry right now with many businesses striving to adopt a “work anywhere” approach. We are seeing a clear push to give employees the tools they need to be effective wherever they are. This is ideal for the savvy mobile reseller that has always had this as their core remit.

There are of course issues when looking after a truly mobile unified communications platform. Primarily this is related to the fact that there are 3 core mobile operating systems which are constantly being upgraded, not to mention the 1000s of different handsets that users can choose from, each with their own quirks and nuances. Standard native mobile apps delivered by PBXs produce all kinds of headaches for engineering teams. This is where the development of WebRTC is really exciting as it may negate the need to install, upgrade and manage these difficult situations.

That’s a long way off – not every mobile OS supports WebRTC – but we are watching the progression of the standard with a keen eye.

Previous posts from the ipcortex WebRTC week:

Real Time Campaigning: How will WebRTC and other tech impact elections in 10 years’ time?

Hacking together a WebRTC Pi in the sky – keevio eye

Wormholes, WebRTC and the implications of algorithmical analysis Defragmenting today’s communications

WebRTC – where are the real world applications?

Welcome to ipcortex WebRTC week on

Check out all our WebRTC posts here

4g End User

EE4g shock to the data usage system

4g data usage significantly higher than 3g

I’ve been using 4G since O2 launched their service. You may recall I was a trialist. Then I did the test trip around London comparing EE, Vodafone and O2 4g. For the last few months I have only been using 3g. I handed my SGS4 down and bought a Oneplus One.

The Oneplus phone is such fantastic value that having to exist without 4g was a small price to pay. O2 4g hadn’t reached Lincoln anyway so all I was giving up was faster service on the occasional trip to London. For those trips I use my EE4g MiFi in anycase.

The problem with the Oneplus is that the LTE frequencies it supports are only available on EE (and possibly 3). So when it came to switching my mobile contract EE was a no brainer really. There seems hardly any price difference between the various  networks, if you can manage to plough through all the offers.

Now before deciding on a plan I checked my past usage. The most I had consumed in a month in recent history was around 300MB. A 1Gig data bundle with all you can eat calls and texts seemed to do the job at £16.

What I didn’t budget for was the fact that the usage experience is so much better using 4g when compared with 3g that I would be using it a lot more. Google Hangouts with my daughter in Paris are far better quality than relying on the hotel WiFi, for example.

So now with 16 days of the contract month to go I’ve only got 285MB left out of my Gig 4g data usage bundle. I’m gonna have to see how it goes and take a view on a possible upgrade. For the next week I will be in the Isle of Man where the seriously rip off roaming charges will prevent me from using mobile data in anycase.

Loads of 4g posts here btw.

4g End User Engineer Mobile

Mobile data bandwidth in channel tunnel

Channel tunnel mobile data rate impressed

Over in gay Paree for a few days to settle my daughter into the next six months of her year abroad adventure. yesterday was a freezing 11 hours traipsing around prospective flatshares.

Couple of things I noticed both here and on the way over. In the Channel Tunnel I was getting LTE on my Oneplus One phone. I’m with O2 and the Oneplus doesn’t support O2 LTE spectra in the UK. The Chunnel however was a different ball game. Despite having data roaming switched off I found I was getting 16Megs down under the water. Whiled away a bit of the journey.  The rest of it was spent listening to sounds on the phone.

The next thing I noticed is that people were using their phones on the Metro in Paris. If you haven’t been the Paris Metro is just like the London Underground. It’s underground. Why can’t we have mobile connectivity on the tube. It was the same in Barcelona. People talking on their phones on the Metro.

That’s all for now. Just one thing before I go. If you are thinking of coming for a leisure break to Paris in February I’d say there were better places to go. It’s absolutely freezing here. Of course I’m here to do a job but the same advice applies

4g Business

Manx Telecom 4G launch

Manx Telecom 4G launch around 12 years after being first 3G trialist

Quite excited to see the Manx Telecom 4G launch. I periodically go to the Isle of Man to see me dear old mam and dad. They live around the corner from the telephone exchange in Peel. One of my old school chums Richard Fletcher works for Manx Telecom and we occasionally get together for lunch when I’m over.

It was Richard who introduced me to 3G at Manx Telecom. Before 3G was available in the UK it was trialled in the Isle of Man as Manx Telecom were then part of O2. The IoM is a nice place to conduct telecoms trials as the population is really the equivalent of a smallish town in the UK.

The 3G trial must have been 13 years or so ago. It’s taken a while to get 4G out. The lack of competition in the Isle of Man doesn’t make for speedy rollout of new services. It’s nice to see it happen now though. The Manx Telecom 4G service may even tempt me to get a PAYG sim – I’m over for the week in August. The family is used to seeing me doing mobile speed tests wherever I go. In fact my daughter, who now lives in Spain, instinctively tells me how fast her broadband is when we hangout of an evening.

Whilst over I usually do a few IT support jobs in the paternal household. This time it will include upgrading the folks to FTTC and getting them a new router. The WiFI is a bit dodgy on the old one as you will recall from this here post. Now that the Isle of Man finally has 4G I’m thinking that the conversation on this blog is going to move to 5G. After all if Mayor of London Boris Johnson is talking about it it must be the right thing to do 🙂

4g Business mobile connectivity social networking

Report from #MWC2014 – Mark Zuckerberg and the death of the Personal Computer

I see Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) is in Barca (short for Barcelona – common usage by  the mobile “in” people) for MWC 2014 (Mobile World Congress two thousand and fourteen).

It’s the trendy place to be. You get to be part of the hype, the frenzy. In the run up you casually ask others whether they are going so that they can see that you are going. Affirmative responses result in knowing nods, comparisons of favourite bars and restaurants  and complaints about all the walking that you have to put up with because the show is so large. To those that respond in the negative everything is left unsaid.

I’ve been to Barcelona. Spent a great few days there with my daughter last summer.  We stayed in a nice hotel slap bang in the middle of the city, could walk everywhere and were able to easily retire to the rooftop bar for late afternoon relaxation when we had had enough of the touristy bits.

I years gone by I’ve known one or two of our sales people have to travel in by train from miles kilometres away because accommodation was unavailable in Barcelona itself. Almost as bad as the old days of Telecom Geneva where people would have to commute from Heathrow to Switzerland because hotels were totally sold out for hundreds of miles around (ish) the show.

Mr Zuckerberg is in town because mobile is

4g Engineer engineering mobile connectivity

EE 4G mobile broadband roadmap in UK #LTE-A #mobilebroadband

EE4G4G speeds continue to grow in the UK as EE trial LTE-A 300Mbps.

Sat in an interesting talk at UKNOF27 given by Bob Sleigh of EE. You will know that EE were the first of the mobile operators to sell 4G services in the UK. Bob told us that by the end of 2013 EE 4G services have reached 66% of the UK population with 98% potentially covered by the end of 2014. This represents the fastest rollout of 4G services in any country anywhere and EE now claim that the UK has moved from a mobile backwater to one of the world’s leading implementers.

This claim of world leadership is likely to be on the back of EE’s Techcity LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) trials (November 2013) which saw maximum 4G speeds of 296Mbps. EE expect to roll out LTE-A services in 2014.

4g Business mobile connectivity

O2 4G rollout schedule & EE 4G in Lincoln

4GI’ve been getting updates re the O2 4G rollout schedule.

29th August – London, Leeds, Bradford
27th September – Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Coventry
17th October –  Liverpool
24th October- Glasgow
31st October – Manchester
19th November – Newcastle, Edinburgh, Huddersfield and Wetherby

I’m not sure how the logic works for this rollout. I can understand how networks go for the big metropolitan areas first to get the biggest bang for their early buck. How did Huddersfield and Wetherby slipped into this list? Either there is a little dice rolling going on or someone accidentally pushed the wrong button. Maybe some Telefonica director has a holiday home in Huddersfield? Plausible. Don’t diss the thought 🙂

I look forward to seeing my home town Lincoln on the list. It is very close to being announced by EE – there is a 4G signal in the city. I happen to know that one cell site is already up and running with two more in the pipeline. Watch this space.

Check out the O2 and Vodafone 4G test trip in London here.

4g broadband Business mobile connectivity voip

4G as fixed broadband replacement? – successful case study

4g broadband can be used as a replacement for a fixed broadband service

Blog reader Mitch left a comment about how he now uses VoIP over a 4G line that has replaced his fixed broadband connection.  His broadband had always been rubbish and 4G is now giving him speeds as fast as fibre broadband. I asked if he would be willing to tell the story. It makes for a very interesting read that many will be able to identify with. It may also give hope to those folk in the “final third” who are the 2nd class citizens of the UK when it comes to connectivity.

4g Business Cloud mobile connectivity

4G remains impressive

Using up the last of the battery on this Chromebook from my garret at a Travelodge in London. I’m hanging off the Huaweii MiFi with a 4G sim. I’m sure I’ve said it before but I have to say it again the experience is terrific. Seriously useful for business. Pages load up almost instantly. It’s as if I was using my home WiFi and my FTTC line. Fair play:)

4g Business chromebook mobile connectivity

54 minutes 315 Megabytes 4G conference call using Google+ Hangout

sweyn hunterGoogle Hangout for 54 minutes using Samsung Chromebook and EE4G Huaweii MiFi clocks up 315Megabytes.

Just had a very pleasant 54 minutes video call with Sweyn Hunter using Google+ Hangout. My Huaweii 4G MiFi (courtesy of EE) tells me that it used approximately 315MB of bandwidth – probably slightly less as I did some emails before hand.

At Sweyn’s end he had “good old fashioned BT ADSL” with maybe 512k uplink speed. He lives in Orkney. The video quality was great though it did freeze two or three times in the 54 minutes. The only slight issue was an element of half duplex/one way speech in that if he was speaking and I tried to speak at the same time. I quickly got used to that and it didn’t detract  from the quality of the conversation.

Also 54 minutes was a long hangout for what was just a casual chat – I’ve never met Sweyn but converse with him from time to time on Twitter – @sweynh – I’m sure he won’t mind me telling everyone. The point being that if we were comfortable having a 54 minute video conversation the quality must have been good – otherwise we would have cut it short.

Sweyn is an interesting bloke I’m sure he won’t mind me saying – you should follow him. He is organising an Island Govcamp in Orkney next year on 6th and 7th September.

Might try a hangout using O2 and Vodafone sims in my various phones next time. It will be interesting to see if personal video calling is going to at last get mainstream with 4G. Bandwidth cost is still going to be an issue. You can work out for yourselves how quickly you will eat up your own data bundle.

4g Business mobile connectivity

4G better than hotel WiFi – official

Sat in my garrett at the Cromwell Hotel in London getting ready to to a 5.30 meeting. There is great 4G coverage here from O2, Vodafone and EE. The hotel WiFi is totally pants. It’s so slow it won’t even connect.

During my 4G test trips I already concluded that it is better to use 4G than the WiFi of a pub or cafe. I can tell you after my scientific survey (sample size one)  that this is also the case in hotels.

It’s such a pleasure to have the connectivity on the move. This post is coming from my Samsung Chromebook hooked up to the Huaweii MiFi loaned to me my EE. On the train on the way down I also used the MiFi – it was tucked in my coat pocket so to all intents and purposes the Chromebook was “just accessing the internet directly”.

Now all I need to do is to figure out how to convert Microsoft presentations to Google format (see previous post).

Pics below are screenshot of speedtest on O2 4G on Samsung Galaxy S4 plus screenshot of “error” message when it failed to connect to Cromwell Hotel WiFi.

wifi connection at Cromwell Hotel O2 4G connection in London
It’s offical, at this Best Western Hotel, 4G is best 🙂

4g broadband Business mobile connectivity net neutrality

4G adoption in UK businesses

4g for business offers backup facility for superfast broadband

Why should business use 4G?

Yesterday I sat on a panel discussing 4G at the Convergence Summit South trade show in Sandown Park. The audience was largely resellers of communications services. What you would traditionally call a PBX reseller.

In terms of expectations of what 4G would do for this channel it would appear that it was very much a case of wait and see. There are some sceptics who go as far as to that “4G is just a faster version of 3G and won’t really have any specific applications and uses”.

Well I think they are wrong. 4G may well be “just a faster bearer” but it is going to open up opportunities in the communications market that weren’t there before.

For example Timico does a lot of good business selling 3G cellular back up solutions for broadband lines used to carry credit card transactional data. This type of application doesn’t need the bandwidth capabilities that 4G can offer (although 4G’s faster ping times could have a role to play here).

This type of back up application is not used nearly as much to back up ADSL lines to offices. 3G just isn’t good enough for this other than as a very basic means of accessing the internet. If you rely on your broadband for VoIP then it ain’t going to be any use over 3G, as much as anything because half the networks block VoIP (note to self to do net neutrality update post).

Now something is happening in the communications market in the UK and that is FTTC, Fibre to the Cabinet, fibre broadband, call it what you will. The superior speeds of FTTC make a huge difference to how businesses and indeed consumers use the internet. They are starting to make use of online resources like they have never before.

Witness the aggressive promotion of the Samsung Chromebook. Not only did I get 100GB of free Drive storage (ok only for two years by which time Google hopes I’m hooked enough to buy more) but I also get a free Galaxy phone. When I got my Samsung Galaxy S4 they gave me two years of free 50GB Dropbox which I am very much starting to use.

All this is driving the market towards using more and more of the cloud.

Now businesses when they start to rely more on cloud services are not going to be happy if their internet connection goes down. These things do happen, regularly.

With an increasing availability of 4G it is going to be a no-brainer for  business to have a 4G backup for its FTTC connection. The speeds, assuming you can get coverage, are pretty much identical. In fact 4G is likely to give a better uplink speed than FTTC.

4G networks do not (currently) block VoIP applications such as Skype and have latencies that are going to be able to support other real time applications. I can’t see 4G replacing FTTC in a business connection because of the cost of bandwith.

This may not apply for certain demographics in the consumer market. The only reason we have a phone line in our house is because it supports our data connection. The only people that phone it are scammers from Indian call centres and anti social pariahs trying to sell me PPI miss-selling compensation.

For a single person leaving home, saving on the cost of a phone line and broadband might well be enough to offset the additional bandwidth costs of a 4G subscription. I digress.

The upshot is that I think that the combination of FTTC and 4G is going to be a real driver for sales of mobile subscriptions and that the resellers sat in that room listening to the panel discussion should all be thinking of how they can add mobile into their portfolio. If you like think of it in terms of increasing ARPU for broadband sales.

On a similar but different note I met with EE last week for a chinwag on life, the universe and 4G. I had been pretty critical about the EE efforts to sell 4G (see post here). However soon after I wrote that post their subscriber uptake rocketed and I think they may well have now reached a million subs.

It would seem that this increase in interest is due to a combination of market reach (ie more people can now get 4G), growing awareness due to the continued marketing effort and more people coming up to contract renewal. The entry of the O2 and Vodafone into the market will also help by creating even more market awareness.

This same dynamic is going to happen in the business comms market. There will come a time where 4G is generally available, more or less, to all businesses and they will start to use it.

Obvious really. Ciao.

PS if you want to talk more about this drop me a line.

PPS I was driving past Coventry earlier this week and noticed an O2 4G signal on my phone. Hey Coventry, it’s on it’s way to you next 🙂

4g Engineer mobile connectivity

Mobile data usage growth when using 4G networks

EE4GMet with EE last week. Discovered that in the early days of their 4G network rollout a significant chunk of the bandwidth usage was people doing speed tests. Bit like me. I’ve racked up around 6GB between O2 and Vodafone and more when taking into consideration the Huaweii MiFi with the EE SIM.

A pal of mine told me that last week he had already used up his 8GB bundle for September and had to buy more. He hadn’t been doing 4G testing but had been watching movies. It’s the shape of things to come. I’ll see if I can find some bandwidth usage trend stats for 4G and maybe we can extrapolate to see how much data we are going to be using in say 2 years time. Problem is there isn’t enough data specifically on 4G yet.

One interesting aspect of the meeting with EE was that they have no plans to introduce unlimited packages on 4G. Like it or not this is the only sensible approach in the near term when network capacity is still fairly expensive.

It’s too early to tell which of the operators is going to have the best 4G network.

4g Engineer mobile connectivity olympics

4G speed test results in London – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone

4G4G test results in London – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone on a road trip.

Competition in 4G has been a long time coming. It’s almost a year since EE launched their service and we now have the Vodafone and O2 4G networks running, at least in London. When I took part in the O2 4G trials in 2013 the results were spectacular (43Mbps in the Devonshire Arms pub off Oxford Street) if confined to a few places – O2 used 25 cell sites for these trials. The results were great partly because I doubt that there were that many people using the network given that we all had dongles and not phones. You had to have your laptop out which aside from my coverage experiment conducted from the top deck of a moving number 25 bus meant that you had to be in a static location.

Now I have three networks to play with: EE, Vodafone and O2. It would be natural to expect that having had longer to roll out their network the EE coverage would be better. However with more subscribers using the EE service would their speeds be as good as the relatively empty networks of the new kids on the block?

The 4G test tools to hand were a Samsung GalaxyS4 running O2, a Nokia Lumia 920 on Vodafone and a Huawei 4G Mobile WiFi E5776 (MiFi) loaned to be my EE. The tests were conducted over two separate trips and on each occasion I had a Twitter pal along for the ride: @flosoft and @UKTamo. We also used @UKTamo’s SGS3 LTE running on EE.

In one sense because I was using four different devices the test conditions were not going to survive academic scrutiny. However having to go to the effort of swapping SIMs every time I wanted to run a test just so that I could do like for like testing wasn’t going to be practical. What you get here therefore is a mix of experiences with some real results mixed with subjectivity. It should provide a feel for the 4G experience in London.

4G speed testing at McDonalds KingsX We started off in McDonalds in Kings Cross. Day one was not an unbridled success as for much of the day the only network I had working was EE.  Having only just provisioned them, the new 4G SIMs on the other two took a while to kick in. Before realising this I thought that maybe the S4 and Lumia 920 needed a firmware upgrade. @flosoft averaged around 5Mbps using the McDonalds WiFi to download the software for the Samsung whereas I was getting double that using the EE 4G MiFi for the Nokia. Nokia took well over half an hour to perform the actual upgrade after downloading the software but it had still finished the job before the WiFi based software download for the Samsung had ended, let alone start the installation.

This became a theme. During lunch at the Nag’s Head in Covent Garden hanging off the EE4G Huawei MiFi was a better experience than using the pub’s WiFi. This is despite the fact that my Galaxy S4 is set to backup media to Google+ when connected via WiFi. Because of this any speed testing and usage on the MiFi will have been degraded because of the background uploading yet the experience was still good. It suggests to me that as 4G becomes more ubiquitous, cost of data aside, public venues will need to upgrade their broadband service if they want people to continue their WiFi rather than a cellular service.

As an aside during the 2012 Olympics I spent a lot of time testing mobile connectivity in London and found that when walking around the cellular networks were far more useful than the hundreds of thousands of WiFi hotspots in town.

Will 4G render public WiFi networks obsolete I wonder?

Roaming around central London saw very variable results with all three networks working on 4G. Handsets would switch between 3G and 4G by just turning a corner and 4G performance when in a low signal strength area felt not to be as good as 3G in the same circumstance. In theory 4G should be no different to 3G in this respect – maybe it just needs a bit more playing with.

4G speed testing on a number 73 busSat on the Number 73 bus between Kings Cross and Oxford Circus the EE network had more consistent 4G coverage than Vodafone – see the video. EE averaged 18Mbps on this route with only a couple of results dropping below 10Mbps to 5Mbps and 8Mbps.

Following on from the Nags Head lunch experience indoor coverage seemed better than I had been expecting. When my Vodafone 4G kicked in I managed to get 65.85Mbps at the back vodafone 4G speed test resultsof the Pop Up Brittain shop on Piccadilly. We saw 48.62Mbps down and 43.31Mbps upload with EE in a 2nd Floor Office in Castle Lane near Victoria which was the best combined performance. I was getting around 10Mbps down with both O2 and Vodafone at this location.EE 4G speed test results 48Mbps castle lane London

Vodafone and O2 are sharing cell sites so where you got 4G with one you would naturally expect the other to be present. This was by and large the case though sometimes one network would have better performance than the other at these locations which might be explained by traffic volumes.

We used for the testing and when comparing different networks it was important to be using the same server. For EE performance at one location rose dramatically when we switched away from the Yoda in Covent GardenVodafone London speedtest server – no dirty work on the go here I’m sure:). It was also funny that when I stood next to Yoda between Covent Garden Station and the Piazza I got a very poor Vodafone signal – the force was obviously elsewhere unless he wasn’t the real Yoda (Vodafone uses Yoda from the Star Wars movies for advertising purposes).

The fastest download seen was 73Mbps on O2 at South Kensington tube station. Sat at the Champagne Bar in Paddington I was regularly getting 58Mbps on Vodafone – indoors again (video here). The EE MiFi in this environment didn’t perform so well. Indoors in Paddington Station might be a poor EE coverage area but my guess is that there were too many WiFi enabled devices in the area and the MiFi struggled with the noise.

Overall I didn’t see quite the same peak speeds on EE compared with O2 and Vodafone. The fact that there are far more people on the EE network would explain this. As you might expect EE did seem to have better overall coverage, though this coverage was far from ubiquitous. There seemed to be pretty good 4G from all three networks in the main tourist and commuter hotspots – Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus (video here) and major train stations for example.

One additional data point is that I had to plug both the Nokia and Samsung phones in to charge by around 2pm after a day’s testing. I was carrying two Powergen Mobile Juice Pack 6000s especially for this purpose. Whether that tells you anything about battery life when using 4G I’m not sure considering I was hammering the phones. It probably does.

Overall it’s exciting to see three networks up and running now albeit only in London. It won’t be long before competition sees coverage improve everywhere – although it isn’t advertised I could get 4G from all three networks on the platform at Slough Railway Station.

Even the slower 4G speeds were pretty fast compared to 3G. I have to believe that with 4G the mobile networks have finally moved into the 21st century.

4G is definitely going to drive usage. I used almost 2GBytes in two days of testing with O2 – I’m on an 8GB package. I suspect the real issue is how quickly the networks will want to drive usage/fill their capacity. They will be able to control this with pricing. However although the mobile operators are desperate to move away from selling on price I can’t see them being able to do so long term. The market will have its way…

More speed test screenshots here from O2, Vodafone and EE. Thanks to @flosoft and to @UKTamo for their able assistance especially for the photos and screenshots of the test results. Thanks to EE for the loan of the Huawei MiFi – it’s a great piece of kit. I was hoping to be able to publish a comprehensive database of the tests but unfortunately the app only kept a certain number of results and the Windows 8 Phone version didn’t even seem to allow you to export the data. Ah well.

Other 4G posts:

4G as a fixed broadband replacement service here.

EE 4G mobile broadband roadmap here.

Google Hangouts over 4G here.

4g Business mobile connectivity ofcom

Analysis of who bought what in the Ofcom 4G spectrum auction #O2 #BT #merger

google_campus_thumbThe 4G spectrum auction results were announced back in February. Five telcos won spectrum: Telefonica O2, Vodafone, EE, 3 and BT. MLL Telecom and HKT (UK) Company lost out. Before looking at the merits of each deal it is worth understanding the pros and cons of each spectrum band.

Two bands were up for grabs: 800MHz and 2,600MHz or 2.6GHz. 60MHz was available in the 800MHz band and 185MHz in the 2.6GHz band. There was therefore more capacity available and in bigger blocks at the higher frequency than in the lower. The data throughput that can be achieved in a mobile network is proportional to the amount of spectrum you can throw at it.

The higher frequencies are potentially more valuable from a network capacity perspective than the lower. Where there is a 35MHz block available you can also decide whether to use the whole block to offer a faster service to fewer people or to divide it into smaller packages and serve more subscribers with lower speeds. 45Mbps versus 15Mbs say (my guess).

The downside for the higher speed spectrum is that it has poorer in building penetration and a lower  reach and is therefore not as useful for providing a fixed line broadband replacement service as the lower 800MHz band.

One lot in the 800MHz band was designated by Ofcom as being saddled with a coverage obligation with a requirement to reach 98% of the population with a 2Mbps service by 2017.

Before rural dwellers get excited it is worth noting that the coverage obligation states that “a minimum download speed of 2Mbps should be available with 90% confidence in 98% of houses (residential properties) covered by the mobile broadband service when the network is lightly loaded. Lightly loaded is defined by Ofcom as a “single user demanding service within the serving cell, and the surrounding cells of the network are loaded to a light level (by which we mean the common channels only are transmitting at 22% of the maximum cell power)”.

In my mind that means that 2Mbps is the absolute maximum anyone will get under the coverage obligation. If this was introduced to support the government’s 2Mbps for all pledge then look out for weasel words galore when that number is not achieved by “the end of this parliament”.

Next let’s look at who bought what.

Winning bidder Spectrum won Base price
Everything Everywhere Ltd 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz and
2 x 35 MHz of 2.6 GHz
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz £225,000,000
Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc) 2 x 15 MHz of 2.6 GHz and
1 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired)
Telefónica UK Ltd 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz
(coverage obligation lot)
Vodafone Ltd 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz,
2 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz and
1 x 25 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired)
Total £2,341,113,000



At £790 million Vodafone spent the most dosh in the auction and came away with the best spread of spectrum with 20MHz of the 800MHZ and 65MHz of the 2.6GHz spectra. Basically roughly a third of what was available. This should give them the most optimal flexibility to provide a mix of in town and rural services. Vodafone, which is sharing infrastructure with O2 under a venture known as Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd has like O2 stated a goal of hitting the 98% population coverage before 2016.


The next biggest spender at £589 million was EE bringing it 70MHz of the 2.6GHz spectrum and the “minimum buy” of 10MHz from the 800MHz band. EE is already offering 4G services in the 1.800MHz band so whilst its 800MHz holding may be a little light the company still has a good spread of spectrum.

EEs head start in this game also adds an additional competitive dimension to the whole business.


The O2 spectrum allocation is an interesting one. Paying £550 million for the 20MHz coverage obligation lot in the 800MHz spectrum it has paid more for this band than either EE or 3 if we use the reserve price of £225 million paid by 3 as a benchmark. It isn’t as simple as that but without spending days analysing the finer points of the auction it serves a purpose as a rough guide.

O2 is obliged to cover 98% of subscribers by 2017. In my mind this is something they will have been wanting to achieve in any case so the “obligation” is unlikely to be a particular burden. The relatively high cost of the spectrum combined with what I imagine to be a higher cost of serving rural districts might raise an eyebrow but I am not party to O2’s infrastructure cost model and plan.

What is potentially more likely to be an issue for O2 is the absence of a holding in the 2.6GHz band. O2 may be pinning its hopes on being given future permission to use its 2,100 MHz spectrum holding or there may be a clue in the recent announcement that BT will be working with O2 to provide the backbone network for O2s 4G services. Having the high capacity backbone is fine but not particularly necessary if you don’t have the spectrum capacity to drive traffic.

Hutchinson 3G UK Ltd

There isn’t that much to say about 3 really. The company was guaranteed some spectrum in the Ofcom process. It paid the reserve price of £225 million for the smallest allocation of all the networks. 3 is currently by far the smallest mobile operator in the UK ignoring the fact that BT seems likely to re-enter the market and one wonders what the long term plans are likely to be. Will they change their name to 4? 🙂


BT’s acquisition of 2.6GHz spectrum at £186 million represented by far the lowest cost per meg and so on that basis the incumbent fixed line operator seems to have got the best value out of the auction.

However the obvious spectrum for BT to have gone for would have been in the 800MHz range, assuming its intention is to use 4G to improve its broadband penetration to rural areas. This would be consistent with BT’s increasingly monopolistic position in the “final third” of the country as seems to be suggested in the awarding of Government BDUK contracts.

I don’t have any insight into their plans but when people look back with the benefit of hindsight at some event or other they often say “of course it was obvious”.

If we look at the BT and O2 positions in respect of spectrum it would seem obvious that both parties should share their respective spectra. I wouldn’t rule out some kind of re-convergence of the twain/merger bearing in mind that BT sold off O2 at some stage in the medium term past.

O2 has just offloaded its fixed broadband business to Sky. BT is getting back into mobile. O2 owner Telefonica is a Spanish company and therefore likely to be suffering from the woes of the Spanish economy. BT could buy O2! Pure speculation but makes sense to me.

That’s it as far as an analysis of who bought what in the 4G spectrum auction. A bit overdue but sometimes these things benefit from digesting the information for a little while before rushing to gain first mover/publisher advantage in the SEO stakes. In the meantime developments have allowed me to add an additional dimension to the analysis.

I doubt we will have to wait much long to find out where this whole space is going. You can read up about my thoughts on time to market here.

28/9/13 update – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone 4G networks in London

4g Business mobile connectivity ofcom

The 4G race to market in the UK – the heavy rollers are in town and the stakes are high

EE4GIt’s the middle of May. The 4G auctions were in February. We are all waiting with bated breath for announcements of service rollouts. Last time I looked was when I was preparing for my 4G talks at Convergence Summit North. The word on the web was “summer”. No specifics. In fact the O2 website said summer but I’m not sure that Vodafone even said that.

Now I’m writing a 4G update for Comms Business and thought I’d take another look. O2 has removed the reference to a summer availability but has not offered an alternative. I suspect that this means Christmas which is the big payout time for mobile networks. The Vodafone website just says “later this year”.

I guess this isn’t likely to come as a surprise. A 4G network rollout will be a lot of work and cost a lot of money so I guess there is a scenario that O2 and Voda will be pacing their investment.

There is a race on here though. I hear EE already have around 330,000 subscribers and say they are targeting 1 million by the end of the year. If O2 and Voda don’t get their act together that will mean EE will be ahead of them to the tune of 1 million customers, higher spending customers, by the year end.

Personally I don’t think 330,000 is a particularly good result for EE considering they have had the market to themselves for over six months even though their ARPUs might be good. Also the EE marketing appears to me to be less than optimal.  I recently spoke to an EE reseller who said that the product strategy wasn’t particularly joined up. The company apparently sells to consumers through EE, small businesses through Orange and larger businesses through TMobile1 with three different hardware portfolios and different sets of pricing.  If I were EE that is one thing I’d be looking to sort out.

In fairness EE will have the same coverage rollout issues as being faced by the other mobile operators so there will only have been a limited segment of the market available to them in that first six months. Word is that EE will have reached 80 towns by the end of June. By the end of April that number was 62 covering 50% of the population.

According to the Ofcom Communications Market Report 2012 in 2011 there were 82 million mobile connections. Assuming the number is still the same today that would suggest that around 0.8% of the available market (330k/41m) is on EE 4G after 6 months. I guess the next six months are going to be crucial in the race. EE will have had a year’s head start on the others, assuming my Christmas guess is right. If they can sort out the marketing then if I were EE I’d be disappointed with only a million subs by the end of the year.

If I were O2 and Vodafone I’d be stepping up the pace of their own 4G rollout. The two operators are jointly building out the network, ultimately to 18,500 cell sites and according to the Vodafone blog splitting the work 50/50. It would be interesting to see how their respective rollouts are doing. Who is going to get there first in the partnership? If they are doing half the work each presumably they will be announcing the service at the same time. The timing of these announcements is therefore likely to be quite critical. Get there first and presumably get the marketing advantage. Get there second and you can tailor your own pricing and packaging competitively knowing what the other guy is offering. Get there at the same time and risk accusations of a cartel.

Whatever happens it looks like I will have to wait until Christmas before I get a 4G connection – my phone is with O2 and my laptop with Vodafone. At least I’ll know what to put in my letter to Santa.

1It may be the other way round re TMob & Orange marketing.

28/9/13 update – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone 4G networks in London

4g Business ofcom

EE by gum – 4G hits the fells

EE 4G availability in CumbriaTwitter informs me that EE has launched its 4G broadband service in Cumbria. Great. Their press release tells us that their coverage extends over nearly 100 square miles and over 2,000 residents, many of whom are homeworkers.

A quick scan shows that this news is all over tinterweb. For some reason no one other than B4RN sends me press releases so I don’t have a blog post already written about this one :). Not that that is a big deal – most of the stuff out there just regurgitates the press release which ain’t particularly imaginative or value add.

What would be interesting to see is the business case put together within EE for the service. Prices apparently start from £15.99 a month and presumably scale up based on bandwidth consumption. Assuming the take up was in line with the national uptake for broadband (74% in Q1 2011 according to Ofcom) and bearing in mind the lack of competition then that would give EE 1,480 * £16 = £23,680 a month or just shy of £300k a year revenues. I would guess they will be able to make money out of that. I’d also expect users signing up for this service to buy other EE services so I should think the overall revenues will be quite a bit higher.

Out of interest I went into EE’s availability checker it told me that the service wasn’t available in Cumbria yet! I don’t live there anyway!! If I did live in Cumbria I would buy the service and find out what this internet thing is all about.

That’s all…

4g Business mobile connectivity ofcom

4G spectrum auctions – bidders include BT

Trefor DaviesOfcom has announced the bidders in the 4G spectrum auctions. There are seven in total. Thought about bidding myself but I didn’t really have a firm plan of what to do with it if we managed to secure the spectrum.

The bidders include all the ones you would have expected – EE, O2, Vodafone and 3 in their various official corporate guises. Also PCCW who already offer a limited 4G fixed line replacement service in the UK. Then we have a company called MLL Telecom which has existing mobile spectrum licenses and provides managed networks  in the UK.

Finally, and perhaps most interesting, is Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited, otherwise known as BT. This business was only registered in June of this year and has already had two name changes: initially BT Facilities Services Limited (until sept 2012) and then BT Ninety-Two Limited (changed only last month).

I don’t have any inside track here – BT is being very tight lipped regarding their plans – but if I were a betting man I’d say this was another step on the road to BT becoming a fully fledged mobile network operator, again.

At some stage after divesting itself of Cellnet BT realised it needed to be in mobile and so is now an MVNO, partnering with Vodafone.  Buying 4G spectrum would be a natural step forward here.

Modern 4G kit is very flexible and can carry multiple operators networks – both in the modem and in VLANs applied to the various backhaul circuits. BT, with its own spectrum would be able to easily launch 4G services piggy backing on someone else’s existing infrastructure and the company has good relationships with both Voda (through the MVNO) and EE from its work in the Cornwall superfast broadband project.  Indeed the company won an award earlier this year for demonstrating the solution that could be used in a country wide 4G rollout.

It would be a big move for BT, upping its mobile ante, especially as the incumbent mobile operators are fighting a headwind of revenue erosion, but converged networks are the way forward and for a company of BT’s size it has to have a mobile play.

That’s my bet and I’m sticking with it. We will find out soon enough.

4g Business mobile connectivity

4G cost an issue?

4G EE LTEI note the Beeb is reporting today that people are saying the cost of signing up to an EE 4G plan is too high.

There are always going to be whingers. Either people will like the pricing or they won’t. It’s a straight business decision on the part of EE. Network operators are under constant margin pressure because they have chopped their pricing too much in the past. 4G represents an opportunity to build value into their businesses.

My biggest concern is how successful they will be in adding additional margin generating services to their portfolios. If you look at the EE pricing then everyone gets unlimited voice and texts and they are just offering variable charging based on data consumption. On its own this isn’t enough but I’m not sure I see networks successfully adding other services that people are willing to pay for.


4g Business

4 G E E L T E 4 ME?

4G EE LTEEE is doing a good job at building up market expectation. Today the mobile network operator launched its pricing plans, available from the end of this month.

Consumers can have unlimited calls and texts with 500MB of data for £36. Remembering that I used 60MB of data in one minute on the O2 LTE trials I suspect that not many people will stay on this plan. The options are:

500MB £36
1GB £41
3GB £46
5GB £51
8GB £56

I assume that this comes with a phone though it isn’t clear. Their site suggests you can get the Nokia Lumia 920, 820, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Note 2 LTE, HTC One XL and the iPhone5 plus a few other also rans (sorry).

If you use up your data allowance you won’t be able to access the internet until you buy a data add-on (ok). It isn’t entirely clear but it looks like the cost of a data add on is £6 for 500MB or £15 for 2GB so it makes sense to get your plan right in the first place.

I note there is a roaming package for £5 a month though this doesn’t seem to apply to data which in my mind is what I am most likely to use when roaming – checking restaurants, bars, local attractions (library locations etc).

The speeds are quoted at 8 – 12Mps on average.

It also looks as if they will not be blocking VoIP

4g End User

iPhone5 availability with 4G LTE & beginning of the end for Orange and TMobile?

Just spoke with an Orange customer service representative. They sent me an email asking if I’d like to sign up for an iPhone5. Here’s the rub. Nobody has a date for availability of LTE yet. Moreover Orange and TMobile won’t be offering it. You will have to go to a brand new company known as EE to get the service.

I’m thinking this is likely to be the beginning of the end for the Orange and TMobile brands. In time all services will be 4G and according to this logic existing Orange and TMobile customers will have mostly migrated to EE. Quite clever.

The Orange person was unable to give me a date for when EE would be up and running or when one would be able to sign up for 4G though anyone buying an iphone5 from them now could be migrated in due course.

4g End User mobile connectivity phones

iPhone5 – why would you want to buy it? #4G #LTE

The iPhone5 est arrive. This year has seen a long list of major events come and go. Now it’s the turn of the iPhone5. Ordinarily this would do nothing for me. From what I can see the spec, in the main, is no better than the Samsung GalaxyS3. I’m not a zombie fanboi, activated by keywords in Apple marketing material, programmed to obey unquestioningly, asking only how much money to profer on the altar of the fruit.

The one feature that the iPhone5 has that makes me think about getting it is support for 1,800MHz. This is a massive coup for EE (eh?). We don’t have a real list of LTE alternative handsets yet. All the main manufacturers are on the list. I don’t want two S3s (my current phone is an S3 on O2) and I don’t see a compelling enough reason to go Lumia.

My attitude to Lumia might change when Windows8 is properly launched but for the moment it aint. So it looks like iPhone5 then.

I’m not totally convinced. Do I really want to toss my principles aside for the sake of using a LTE service that won’t work in my home town using a handset that won’t roam on any other network?

4g Business mobile connectivity ofcom

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…

4g End User

4G usage data – line up for your 100GB a month plan – O2 LTE

view from my room at the Kings Cross TravelodgeI was back in my London pied a terre  garret last week – the Kings Cross Traveloge (header photo is view from my room lifted from their promotional literature). I was heading out to dinner for the evening but hooked up to the O2 LTE trial service to finish off some stuff.

I was getting 15Mbps down which was good. Seeing as I was going to be out all evening I decided to run a usage test based on 5 video streams. I loaded 3 iPlayer and 2 ITV streams (for a bit of variety – no other reason though I’d consider myself more of a BBC man than ITV – it’s Blue Peter versus Magpie for those of a certain age) and watched the usage grow.

The screenshot below is at the beginning. I’d been online for 39 mins and in that time downloaded 135MB.

4g Business mobile connectivity social networking

#lincstweetmeet – McDonalds, doubledecker busses and the blistering pace of 4G

#lincstweetmeet live from the Showroom, Lincoln - click to see people :)Had a very enjoyable time at #lincstweetmeet yesterday. I gave a talk to an audience of just short of 100 social media fans on the effect that 4G will have on their tweeting, blogging and general online networking. Interesting to note that I recognised many of the twitter names from the badges as people I follow. It’s still very difficult to correlate an online persona with a real one though unless you have met them a few times.

Click on the header photo to see the actual audience. It was nice to meet them 🙂

If you want to understand the context of the post title click here.

4g Business mobile connectivity Net

Global Telecoms Business Innovations Awards

ballroom at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel for the Global Telecoms Business Innovation AwardsHad a great night at the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel. I was there as a guest of BT Wholesale for the annual Global Telecoms Business Innovations Awards. My hosts won an award for their work with mobile network operator Everything Everywhere in rolling out 4G infrastructure that allowed the sharing of backhaul connectivity. Basically you can now have multiple VLANs terminating at different nodes. In the Cornwall project the BT POP was in Bristol and EE in London (I might be wrong with the specifics here – lemonade has a funny way of playing tricks with my memory but you get the gist).

The video below is of Chet Patel, MD of Markets at BT Wholesale and David Salam of Everything Everywhere picking up the awards which I’m sure will find a treasured spot in their respective HQ receptions 🙂

It’s a serious power networking evening and well worth going if you get an invite. BT won another award with Genband, the company that  Timico partners with for our VoIP infrastructure.

My sincere thanks go to Dave Axam at BT for being such a welcoming host. I’ll be writing up the 4G aspects of the Cornwall project sometime soon. 4G was used to provide internet connectivity for some of the more inaccessible parts of the county.

28/9/13 update – comparison of O2, EE and Vodafone 4G networks in London

4g Engineer

4G site surveys and the Self Organising Network Nirvana – LTE small cells

Ever wondered how they go about deciding where to put a new cellular base station?  It’s a fairly complicated process. It’s also very much site specific, awkward locations, landlords, etc. but as an average the following table is a fair reflection of the effort (source Accelera Mobile Broadband with some O2 validation).



(Man Days)

New site verification


On site visit: site details verification


On site visit: RF survey


New site RF plan


Neighbours, frequency, preamble/scrambling code plan


Interference analyses on surrounding sites


Capacity analyses


Handover analyses


Implementation on new node(s)


Field measurements and verification




Total activities

7.5 man days

Now just imagine the urban 4G/LTE scenario  we have been discussing, where there are ten times as many small cells as in the existing macrocell model. Research org ABI has forecast that there will be 5 million small cells by 2015.

That’s a lot of site surveys using the traditional model. A lot of man days. The only sensible answer is to deploy Self Organising Network. SONs seem to have some way to go before they are mature enough for full scale deployment but there is time, in the UK at least.

A SON has, in theory all the features you might expect from the name. Cells should self-configure,  regularly self-optimize parameters and algorithmic behaviour in response to observed changes in network performance and atmospheric conditions.  Self-healing mechanisms can be triggered to temporarily compensate for a detected equipment outage whilst waiting for a permanent fix. Nirvana really – plug and play. As we have already found out in the lamp post story plug and play is probably some time away but it will come.