For a couple of years, any mention of holiday in the LTE blogger’s house brings the same question from the kids: “are we going to Disneyland?” So far, their hopes have been dashed and they have had to instead listen to their friends having all the fun. Once again, this year we’re not going to Disneyland. Actually, we’re going to Norfolk. No, it’s not the same.
It’s a little like LTE in the UK (bear with me on this). Do we have LTE yet, some ask? No, we don’t, and we’ve had to look on enviously as those in the US, and some places such as Sweden, Norway and Germany, have had faster data available to them. It certainly came as a shock to those who didn’t realise that the new iPad’s 4G LTE was not and would never be, compatible in the UK.
Excitingly though, things could be very different by the end of the year. I predict an LTE iPhone, and Android alternatives too, and networks to run them on too.
The signs are good. We’ve got the auctions set up for early next year with spectrum in the 800MHZ and 2.6GHz frequency ranges up for grabs. But what’s this? Everything Everywhere, the UK joint venture between Orange (France Telecom) and T-Mobile UK (T-Mobile), has some spare 1800MHz spectrum lying around? And it wants to use this for a live, actual, real-life network in the UK by the end of 2012? OK. I’ll have some of that.
Exciting as that is, just today I talked to UK Broadband CTO Philip Marnick who told me that come September, the UK subsidiary of Hong Kong’s PCCW plans to have the first commercial network in the country live by September 2012. Admittedly its LTE coverage will be limited to small areas of South London, and a trial area in Reading, but it’s still pretty exciting. LTE in the UK is starting to actually happen.
In addition, this week France Telecom said that it was committed to bringing LTE to ten countries across Europe by 2015 (including its commitment in the UK under the Everything Everywhere brand). That means that by the time we actually do get to Disneyland Paris, they’ll be LTE there too. Double win.
As far as the Everything Everywhere announcement goes it has so far met with the UK regulator Ofcom’s approval, much to the consternation of the other networks, who argue that it goes against Ofcoms’s stated aim of promoting fair UK LTE competition by letting one of them go first. You can understand their viewpoint, but what could spur competition more than the other networks knowing they need to get their LTE houses in order as quickly as possible in order to get themselves competitive?
It might not be in their interest but I think it could be for the UK consumer. The punter gets a national LTE option early, and prices can come down quickly as soon as other others get in the game.
When that happens we’ll no longer be lumbered with the frankly Mickey Mouse 3G networks we rather goofily think of now as mobile broadband and instead be quickly transported to the magic kingdom of LTE.
Philip Marnick from UK Broadband will be speaking at the LTE World Summit is taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain. Click here to register your interest.