Mobile in 2013: Let the 4G battle commence

By Sooraj Shah
21 Dec 2012 View Comments
Mobile mast

But although EE claimed to be spending a vast amount of money on its existing 3G network, it had major issues just days after the 4G launch, with customers flocking to Computing to reveal their dismay at outages across the country.

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The other operators may benefit from this, learning from EE's mistakes, but Howett said that other operators will always be playing catch-up, even after the auction process is completed.

"It is difficult for other networks to start deploying their networks now because they have no certainty yet what spectrum they are going to get in the spectrum auction whereas EE knew how much spectrum they had so they could start that process much sooner," he said.

Howett hopes that there will be enough money left after the auction for the operators to continue investing in the network - so that the problems like Orange's 3G outage will not affect the other operators. Such problems, Howett argued, stemmed from the extortionate amount paid for 3G licences back in 2000.

But while EE has been criticised in some parts for its pricing and structure, Howett hopes that other operators don't take the approach of giving consumers "all you can eat data" to counter EE's proposition.

"All you can eat data with 4G would be an alarming move and would put at risk the later ability to monetise 4G services, so I'm hopeful that operators will put a cap on data like EE has but perhaps add something extra to entice away people who are not happy with EE's tariff," he said.

EE claims that 2013 will be the year which will see firms using 4G in new ways, citing examples of a city hospital in Germany that is trialling 4G-enabled ambulances to speed up diagnosis time of critically ill patients.

"This has resulted in alarm-to-therapy times reducing by 54 per cent," an EE spokesman claimed.

Meanwhile, as 4G gets set for a national rollout, its successor – 5G – is already in the minds of communications regulator Ofcom, as it aims to keep pace with other countries.

An Ofcom spokesman told Computing: "We're doing work around clearing the 700MHz band but this is long term work which is a work in progress and will probably take a number of years."

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