Posts tagged ‘UK’

Broadband is costly in the USA – is it the same for LTE?

While fixed broadband is priceir, LTE contract pricing in the US seems on par with the UK

While fixed broadband is pricier, LTE contract pricing in the US seems on par with the UK

Earlier this week the BBC web site ran an interesting article asking the question why the price of broadband was so much higher in the US than it is in the UK. Research has found that packages are around three times more expensive than they are in the UK, and that in surveys comparing broadband prices the US is often to be found close to the bottom of charts. Considering the US is the country that is traditionally credited with inventing the Internet, this might well come as a surprise for some.

Traditionally technology tends to be cheaper there and to a large extent that’s still the case. Take the newly 13in Macbook Pro: it’s £999 here in the UK (including VAT), but including a typical New York sales tax costs the equivalent of £815 in the US. Not so broadband, where as you can see in the chats in the BBC article, the US is at the bottom of the list for purchasing power parity for broadband at 45Mbps or above.
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Can UK 4G harness its own hype?

Julia Kukiewicz, editor of Choose.net

Julia Kukiewicz, editor of Choose.net

This post is by Julia Kukiewicz, editor of Choose.net, a UK consumer site that has covered the consumer broadband market since 2004.

By the end of this year, all of the major UK networks will be selling 4G.

As with most nascent services, providers will have to walk a fine line: build consumer expectation too high and you’re paving the way for disappointment and sluggish take up; under sell the benefits, and the result will be the same.

There’s no doubt that 4G services are, and will be, far better in terms of speed and coverage than the mobile broadband most of us are used to.

But, as the 3G roll out showed us clearly, a better service won’t save users from disappointment.

And, as consumers use mobile internet more and for more complex, data-hungry tasks, technically better doesn’t always equal a better experience in any case.

So, leaving technical aspects of the service aside, how can 4G providers give consumers enough inducement to switch without overselling? How can they harness their own hype?

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EE looks to streak ahead as UK LTE rivals wait in the wings

EEEE, the only national UK operator currently offering LTE has made couple of announcements today, several of which are innovations for the UK market.

Firstly it has made good on its promise from back in April that it would ‘double’ average UK speeds, with an initial launch of 12 cities. This is no LTE Advanced chicanery – it has simply double the bandwidth it uses from 2 x 10MHz to 2 x 20MHz. Clearly EE has got plenty of spectrum, and it’s not afraid to flaunt it.

It’s also happy to shout it now being able to offer speeds up to 150Mbps, but that’s theoretical, and effectively nonsense. There is a genuine real-world speed boost on offer though, and in my tests on an iPhone 5, I now am consistently getting 30Mbps – pretty much double what I was seeing before.

This is of course a strategic move to keep it ahead of its rivals, who will soon be launching their own LTE services and are unlikely to have the bandwidth to match EE’s speeds.

What’s innovative though is the pricing. The double speed is free to all existing subscribers, but it says that from September it will be charging more for the faster service. If it goes through with this, it will be the first time that a mobile operator has offered speed-based tiered pricing in the UK. This is going to be in stark contrast to Hutchison’s 3 UK network, which has already said it will not be charging more for its LTE service, and has been trying to counter EE speed marketing with its own ‘Ultrafast’ labelling, thanks to its use of DC-HSPA delivering 20Mbps.

No surprise then that it also confirmed that it is trialling carrier aggregation and might use this from the end of 2013, which will help it boosts speeds further.

The other area of innovation from EE is the introduction of Shared plans, again a UK first. From 17 July, you’ll be able to add up to five devices to one bill, for an extra £12 per phone or £5 for a tablet. That should make it more attractive to get more than one LTE device for a household.

Thirdly it’s introducing LTE as a Pay-as-you-Go option – asking £15 for 2GB a month with every extra 500MB costing £3. O2 MVNO Giffgaff offers unlimited 3G data for £12 a month, so the price premium for speed is clear here.

The next new trick is dubbed ‘Cash on tap’ – with a mobile contactless payment scheme using the NFC built into its compatible handsets using Mastercard. This means of course that the iPhone 5 is off the menu, and mainstream outlets such as McDonalds and Boots are on board. Of course contactless is something of a misnomer as you actually have to tap to make it work, but we’ll let that go.

Finally, there’s a new router on offer for its fixed-line fibre (FTTC) customers, the main draw of which is support for 802.11c, the new fast Wi-Fi standard.

It’s a healthy batch of announcements and it’s good to see EE not resting on its laurels as it strives to reach one million customers by the end of the year, but of all its moves, I’ll be most curious to see if the UK market has the stomach for tiered speed pricing.

IP architect at Telefonica UK: “There will be organisational challenges as teams that previously worked separately are brought together in an IP-centric world.”

Andrew Davies, IP architect at Telefonica UK

Andrew Davies, IP architect at Telefonica UK

Andrew Davies, IP architect at Telefonica UK, is speaking on Day Two of the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we find out what’s pressing most in his mind in terms of upcoming IP challenges.

What were the main technical challenges you face as you look to move from 2G/3G to 4G LTE?

As an IP Architect, from my perspective the issues are around the IP Infrastructure. The main concerns are how we can build sufficient capacity into the network. We are moving towards latest technology, such as 100Gbps, and in subsequent years, bundles of 100Gbps or alternatives. We need to build an IP infrastructure that supports potentially incompatible goals of both low latency for the user plane and physically separate paths for signalling traffic. We also need to secure our core IP infrastructure against as yet unknown threats from the all-IP enabled backhaul. The implementation of a shared LTE infrastructure with our partner operator Vodafone will also through up new challenges to us and our vendors. Finally, there will be organisational challenges as teams that previously worked separately are brought together as Radio, Access and Core collapse into one in an IP-centric world.

You’ve recently announced BT as your backhaul provider – what impact do you think LTE will have on your backhaul in the first six months after launch and then a year after launch?

The BT service gives us greater flexibility and resilience and for the first time will bring offer high availability, extending across the aggregation backhaul. We expect significant growth in our mobile backhaul, with it approximately doubling each year.

Is VoLTE on the roadmap, and what are the challenges in implementing it?

Voice over LTE will not be available for launch and will be carried using existing 2G and 3G networks. Voice over LTE will be considered as part of our roadmap of capability over the coming years.

Why is the LTE World Summit such an important event in your calendar?

The LTE World Summit is an opportunity to hear how other operators and experts in their fields are dealing with the challenges posed by LTE.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

Double trouble – How EE is able to double its speeds and why it isn’t entirely good news

olafThis morning EE, the only national LTE operator in the UK announced that come the summer, it would be doubling speeds of its 1800MHz LTE network for its subscribers.  The increase offers a maximum headline speed of 130Mbps, which in the real world would translate to average speeds of 20Mps. The increase will initially be available in ten cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield – and would be done by the end of June.

How is this possible? At the launch CEO Olaf Swantee explained that it was doubling the bandwidth it would be using from 2x 10MHz to 2x 20MHz.

EE has loads of spectrum to play with. In the recent auction, in addition to its considerable 45Mhz at 1800 (63% of all UK 1800 holdings)  it has also acquired 5MHz of 800 spectrum  and 35MHz at 2.6GHz. It therefore owns 36% of all UK spectrum.

Not though that the increase will only happen on the 1800MHz layer. It certainly won’t offer it on 800MHz as it won’t offer that same level of speed as EE simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to support it.

As its UK competitors start to ready themselves to launch LTE, for EE the move is timely, as it gives them another strong point of differentiation. In fact they could be crying into their base stations. Vodafone owns the next largest chunk of spectrum with 20MHz of 2.6GHz while H3G tops out at 15MHz of 1800.

Did EE hold back the launch then just got marketing reasons? Not so, says Monsoor Hanif, director of network integration and LTE at EE who I spoke to after the launch I spoke to and he assured me that the speed increase was always in its schedule and that it did not depend of the success at auction.

However, on a technical level it was not ready to launch at 2x 20MHz he said. Its 1800 spectrum has of course been used for voice and according to Hanif the delay was to ensure it managed that transition to 4G smoothly without affecting the quality of its voice calls. “To take away 10MHz from your 2G spectrum, that’s a massive challenge and we did that very fast. And we didn’t impact the 2G quality – we actually improved it. Could we have done it at day one? Only if we were reckless.”

The major fly in the EE ointment though is that if people were complaining about the paucity of its data bundles at launch, it’s going to be even worse come the summer when those in the ten launch cities will be able to chow their way through their allowances at even more astonishing speeds.

I asked this directly to Olaf Swantee but his answer essentially side-stepped the question. He said that its T-Mobile customers on its unlimited Full Monty tariff  average out at 1.4GB for heavy users. But in the previous sentence he also said that 4G users user more than 3G users.

So if you’re increasing your speeds, why not increase the bundles?

People like the simplicity Swantee said. “They like the fact that it’s a simple portfolio. You cannot get data bill shock as you can’t run out of our bundle.” Well that’s true, but it doesn’t really address the issue.

In the notes supplied with the event EE says the increased speeds will enable it to be ready to stream Ultra HD 4K movies – the next generation beyond Full HD 1080p. However, how it can square this with its modest data bundles is beyond me – as while the network may certainly be fast enough to handle it – most people’s wallets certainly won’t.

Swantee also said that the overall bundle appeals to many – the Film Store, the 2-for-1 cinema deals and the tethering. It’s true, all of those things are great value-adds, but there’s no getting away from the fact that price wise EE LTE remains a premium proposition.

EE bah gum: it’s fast! – EE LTE on test

ee_iPhone

As my day job involves writing about LTE on a pretty regular basis (as in every day) I always found it quite ironic that up until recently I’d never experienced an LTE network ‘in anger’. Come October last year and UK operator EE changed all of that. It’s taken a while but I’ve finally succumbed to the temptation and signed up to the service. This means I’ve done the full tour of UK operators. I started with T-Mobile in 1998 when it was still One-to-One, later moved to Vodafone (just for 3G – yes really), before moving to O2 (cheap). It means Orange is the only brand I’ve not been billed by, but I am at least now using its network.

Today the UK operator EE released its first figures since the operator launched its LTE network, and analysts have been fairly downcast on the figures, which show a decline in revenue of 2.6 per cent to £5.96bn. There have been an increase in post-paid subscribers to the service, the EE network includes the Orange and T-Mobile brands, which are 3G only. As EE has not released figures for the number of its new 4G EE customers there’s no way of knowing to what extent LTE has helped. The assumption from analysts though is that if EE has something to crow about, it would be doing so.

So what’s keeping the punters away? The only conclusion can be price. As you might have heard, there’s a double-dip recession on, which is not the ideal environment to get consumers to pay more for faster speeds, especially when they are as heavily capped as EE. Remember the entry-level cap only gives you 500MBs to play with and though the price has dropped to £31, it’s still pricey. To get a decent 3GB on a two-year contract with an iPhone 5 will cost you £46 a month with £99 for the phone.

But is it worth it?

The one thing I can confirm is that it’s fast. In areas of good coverage, which fortunately for me includes both work and home, LTE on an iPhone 5 delivers speeds that consistently put my Virgin broadband 60Mb connection to shame. Speeds of 30Mbps on the downlink and in excess of 20Mb on the uplink are a breathe of fresh air, especially coming from O2’s 3G network which at least for me, was pretty dire, rarely delivering more than 1.5Mbps.

What surprised me was how much difference it made even for the simple things, such as sending iMessages. The progress bar on messages just zips across, making for more natural conversations. Adding a picture to an iMessage used to mean a long wait while the message was painfully uploaded. Now, they go so quickly that the first time I had to check it had actually been sent and hadn’t just failed. All that upload speed is great for sending or posting pictures and videos, which is what more and more of us are doing from our smartphones.

A lovely was to demonstrate LTE is YouTube. It just loads up and starts to play immediately, with no buffering. Suddenly the speed of your device and not the network is the limit. This was brought home to me just today. I was on the train, and had need to watch a YouTube video. Immediately I did so and for once I was not thinking about latency or cell towers, – just the video. This all changed as the video suddenly stopped. I checked and noted that I was at a stop that I knew was an LTE blackspot (West Hampstead Station). 3G was displayed on the phone, but the speed wasn’t there. Result: experience spoilt.

This does seem to be a problem for EE. Even in the West-End of London I’ll see LTE come and go, and while DC-HSPA 3G is fast, I’ve also seen standard 3G, EDGE and GPRS, which means that your handset might well have to cope with switching between five different network standards during the day. No wonder these smartphones struggle for battery life.

If you have to fall back to DC-HSPA though performance is good. In a recent interview with EE’s Principal network architect, Andy Sutton, I was told that as part of its upgrade programme EE also currently has 40 per cent coverage of DC-HSPA on its network, and I can attest to this being pretty solid. However, ubiquitous coverage of either LTE of DC HPSA is still a long way away and clearly improvements can be made in the hand-off between network technologies.

LTE is not just great for video though. Being something of an audio aficionado I enjoy listening to high quality audio when I can. LTE enables me to stream by 24-bit FLAC files to my handset from NAS box at home, with no issues at all, something that was simply impossible on 3G.

As a downside, listening to high quality files on an LTE connection is also a great way for draining your battery, so necessitated purchasing a charging cable for work and plugging in on a regular basis.

I’ve also used LTE as a backup connection at home, when my Virgin connection has ground to a halt, as it sometimes does. This is thanks to the ability to very easily tether via the iPhone 5 hot-spot feature. This was banned by GiffGaff, the O2 MVNO I used to be on, a point of frustration when there was unlimited data to play with.

In my first month I’ve come just under the 3GB limit, which is clearly the sweet spot for me – enough to use the LTE as I want, without having to worry I’ll go over the cap.

What’s also gratifying is the speed at which EE is rolling out the network. At launch it was just 11 cities, and just four months later it stands at 27 cities – with 15 more by the end of next month.

And while I didn’t come to EE because of the value added services I have made use of the bundled wifi, which gives access to BT Wifi hotspots, the ‘EE Wednesday’s Cinema 2-4-1 offer, and the EE Film store, with a free film a week available to download that doesn’t eat into your data package to download.

To be critical, the EE app has just got very confused about my data usage, telling me I’ve used only 800Mb of my 3GB, when yesterday I had almost used it all up. The web site also had no record of my data usage. I also wouldn’t recommend roaming without a pre-pay bundle – the prices are simply eye-watering. Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes has been working on forcing operators to lower these charges, and for me that can’t come soon enough.

The Clone Phone Lite app also seems pointless. It’s redundant for an iPhone thanks for iCloud, it only comes with a 500MB cap and when I tried to test the app it didn’t recognise my phone anyway.

Overall though, the combination of very fast network speeds and some actually useful value added services, I’d describe the whole EE experience as the most premium feeling package I’ve ever used. Which considering the premium prices is as it should be.

It remains to be seen then how it pans out. I’m relieved that being lucky enough to have an unlocked iPhone 5 without a contract I was able to go for a SIM-only package. This means that I’m only tied in for 12 months – not 24 and come next year they’ll be a pick of other operators offering LTE – (though of course as the iPhone 5 is LTE1800 only I’ll need a new handset to take advantage of them). If I stay, I expect that EE’s packages will be more enticing to the mass market.

So EE: it is expensive, and it can be patchy but as a teacher once described my contribution in class – “when it’s there – it’s really there.”

Who’s in? Deadline for applications for UK 4G spectrum auction closes

Thomas-Wehmeier_web

This post is by Thomas Wehmeier, Principal Analyst, Operator Strategies, Informa Telecoms & Media

Following swiftly on from EE’s launch of the UK’s first live 4G network just a few weeks ago, today marks the next important milestone in the establishment of a genuinely competitive market for 4G services in the UK.

The passing of today’s deadline for prospective bidders to submit applications takes us one step closer to the completion of the highly controversial, long-awaited and largest ever auction of spectrum in the UK. Bidding itself won’t actually start for real until January and we’re likely to see weeks of intensive bid rounds until the results proper are finalised by February or March next year.

As far as the UK’s mobile operators are concerned, this can’t happen soon enough. Despite the encouraging signs we’ve seen since EE went live, the UK is still lagging far and away behind the world’s most advanced 4G market(s). To put it context, by the time the remaining 4G networks are switched on at some point in the middle of next year, more than one-third of Korean and about 20% of Japanese consumers will already be actively using 4G services in their respective countries.

But that’s not to say that we don’t expect to see a marked acceleration in the pace of 4G adoption in the UK next year. By that point, most of the high-end flagship phones on sale in the UK will support 4G technology, we can expect to see some pretty competitive pricing as the markets kicks into life and the inevitable blanket market campaigns are sure to lift interest in and adoption of 4G amongst UK consumers.

How much is the auction expected to raise and who will bid?

It’s fair to say we’re expecting the amount raised to represent just a fraction of the record £22.5 billion spent during the 3G licensing round in April 2000. We have to remember that those were exceptional times, before the dotcom bubble burst and at the height of hype around mobile, and the industry will be much more cautious this time around, not least because of the weak economy and the declining revenues that many operators are suffering in the UK and across Europe.

In his recent Autumn Statement, the UK Chancellor George Osborne pegged the amount the UK Treasury is hoping to raise at £3.5 billion, which puts the official view slightly above industry expectations, but broadly on par with the amounts raised in similar auctions in other European markets such as Germany.

We’re expecting the auction to attract all the usual suspects , meaning the UK’s existing mobile operators Vodafone, Telefonica O2, 3 UK and, of course, EE, who’ll be looking to bolster their existing 4G spectrum position.

What we don’t know and can’t predict is whether we’ll see any wildcard bids. There’s been plenty of industry speculation about the possibility of some of the UK’s other telecoms and media powerhouses, the likes of Virgin Media, Sky or BT, entering the fray, but the experience of looking to other markets that have held similar auctions means we should be surprised if there is a genuinely disruptive and large-scale bid from one of the players. It can’t be ruled out, but it would certainly be unexpected.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a flyer for the event.

UK LTE – The Best is Yet to Come

This post is by Bengt Nordstrom, co-founder and CEO of strategic wireless business consultancy, Northstream,

The intense UK media coverage around Everything Everywhere’s (EE) LTE service launch could have fooled people into thinking it was the first launch of its kind. There are, in fact, a total of 113 operators with live networks across 51 countries, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association. EE is trailblazing a new path for the UK mobile industry, but this route is not without its controversies and challenges. Bengt Nordstrom, co-founder and CEO of strategic wireless business consultancy Northstream, discusses the UK’s first LTE network launch and whether EE’s gamble to go early will pay off.

4G or not 4G….

The UK regulator Ofcom, much to the consternation of rival operators, allowed EE to re-farm its 1800MHz spectrum to launch LTE services in October. However, prior to this, the regulator had earned widespread condemnation for displaying a lack of leadership in allowing the UK operator community to constantly appeal its decisions. This led to massive delays in the UK spectrum auctions taking place; which in turn has prevented commercial LTE service availability and left the UK trailing its European neighbours.

However, the UK is now catching up, with its first live LTE network. More are now set to follow, with the news that Ofcom will auction LTE spectrum licences, at a reserve of £1.3 billion. It is likely that the auctions will raise three of four times this amount of money. A staggering amount given the state of the global economy; and considering how energised the UK Government appear to be regarding LTE deployment. It seems an enigma why regulators make sense of taxing operators who are prepared to build out critical mobile infrastructure.

Despite the cost, these auctions will have the positive outcome that Vodafone, O2 and 3UK will now get their chance to launch LTE. At the moment though a marketing war has erupted – in which EE’s rivals scramble to differentiate themselves and retain their subscribers. For example, Vodafone has launched a £4.5m national newspaper campaign with the tagline “not all 4G networks are the same”; claiming that Vodafone’s signal will travel “further into your home” and is the only mobile network to “own a nationwide fibre backbone”.

A war of words is one thing, but it will be difficult for competitors to respond to EE’s latest move. Although UK 4G coverage is currently limited there is a genuine buzz among consumers about LTE, following the huge amount of publicity it has received. LTE is the service subscribers are keen on; and EE is offering that now. The reality is that operators will not have a fitting response to EE’s LTE offering, until they deploy LTE themselves next year.

The Price is Right?

EE’s 24 month LTE tariffs, ranging from £36 for 500MB up to £56 for 8GB, have drawn criticism on price and how much data they provide. Downloading a one hour programme on BBC’s iPlayer consumes roughly half the 500MB data allowance the lowest priced EE plan offers. It is commonplace for the first mover in the market to have the advantage. EE has done this by setting the bar high on its LTE tariff plans. However, this premium period should only last a short time. There will be a decline in LTE price plans as other operators enter the market. EE may potentially make an early move to lower prices as they seek to control the market as Vodafone, O2 and 3UK plan their entry.

Higher prices for LTE won’t trouble the initial audience; predominantly early adopters and corporate subscribers. There is also a huge market for LTE USB dongles. EE’s dongle tariffs start at £15.99 for 2GB, up to £25.99 for 5GB, and the device is available from free up to £49.99. This is an attractive alternative to ADSL from fixed line providers. Especially for residents of semi-rural areas who suffer slow speeds as they are far away from the switch. Young professionals living in shared accommodation will also find LTE dongles an easy, convenient and cost effective way to get online. This is a market in which EE can really outperform and provide challenging competition to fixed line players. Traditional telcos would have to deploy an increased amount of fibre to compete with LTE coverage; making it very costly for them to stay in touching distance of EE.

The Challenge Ahead

But deploying LTE does pose some technical challenges; and one of the biggest is backhaul. Fibre to the base stations is required to ensure they leverage LTE’s throughput capabilities. EE will need a lot of lead time to deploy fibre; and it is not an easily available off-the-shelf product. WiFi, a rapidly maturing and familiar technology, is not perfect, but could plug coverage gaps and be a solid foil for EE and its macro LTE network.

The other challenge is one that is unique to LTE over 1800MHz – limited indoor coverage. An 1800MHz base station grid just doesn’t penetrate buildings as well. It will be important for EE to deal with this issue as the majority of smartphone usage occurs indoors. Deploying base stations in buildings is not practical or affordable. Small cells remain a remote concept and a great deal more unrealistic than many perceive. Their unit cost, and the amount required, makes them increasingly unviable solution for operators. In order to provide a good user experience EE needs the combination of 1800MHz and 800MHz; with LTE deployed over 800MHz for better indoor coverage.

It will take time for EE’s LTE network to mature, but there was no reason it took such a long time to launch LTE in the UK. However, the country has not suffered due to the delay. Now 4G is live, the UK has a good chance of reaching the level the rest of Europe is at by 2014. But for a market with such a long tradition of being influential in mobile, the UK’s LTE delay has certainly dented its prestige.

Bengt Nordström biography

Bengt co-founded Northstream in 1998 and has been its CEO ever since. Prior to founding Northsream, Bengt held the position of CTO and Executive Director of Smartone in Hong Kong. Other management positions include Ericsson, Comviq and Netcom consultants. Bengt has also held been on the Executive Committee of the GSM Association as well as chairing its Asia Pacific Interest Group.

Pricing strategies will be a major focus of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th – 26th June 2013 at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to pre-register for the event

EE LTE: First impressions – fast but pricey

As you may have seen the UK finally joined the 4G club today as EE as put its devices on sale through its new rebranded stores. Gone are Orange and T-Mobile shops, and in their stead are EE stores – with the Orange and T-Mobile logos neatly placed in the corner so people have some idea what this newcomer to the high street is all about.

I walked in to the store on Tottenham Court Road in the heart of London and to take a look at the store and see what sort of speeds the network was offering on Day One. I initially picked up a Samsung Galaxy S3 (which is huge by the way) and looked to run a speed test. However, I noticed that the phone was connected via Wi-Fi, which on a display stand advertising EE 4G doesn’t seem like the smartest move. I tried to manually go into the settings and turn it off, but was thwarted by a password screen. Not a great start.

I then picked up another Android phone of unknown (or at least unremembered) parentage, but was immediately put off by the cheap, plasticky feel and the confusing mess of icons that is Android. Where does one start with that OS? It’s hard to know. I didn’t have time to mess around so with relief I found on display an iPhone 5 – connected to EE LTE, with Wi-Fi. The Speedtest.net app was preinstalled, so I just had to fire it up – simples.

On first attempt I got 13.90Mbps down and 9.80Mbps. The latter is impressive – faster than my home connection, but the former – a bit meh. The second go was better – 26.68Mbps down and 13.27Mbps up. Not bad, not bad at all. Of course, this is day one – the equivalent of driving sports car at speed on an empty motorway – but it’s promising.

If we’re being harsh, and we are, one thing to note to note is the ping of 50ms – good, but not outstanding. That said, we’ve been told that LTE would be responsive, and it was. Web pages loaded quickly, video streamed instantly and I could scrub through with no lag.

While I was using the phone an assistant came up to me and asked if he could help. I asked if he could make EE tariffs cheaper. He looked bemused.

Much has been made of the fact that the EE prices seem very expensive to UK consumers. There’s the £36 starting point for a 500MB of data, and £56 a month top whack for £56 8GB on a lengthy two-year contract . If you’ve bought a phone outright and you want SIM only, you need to pay £31 a month for 3GB and £36 for 5GB. I’m paying £10 a month for unlimited data, so in no way do the EE tariffs seem attractive to me.

The service I’m with, an MVNO on O2 called Giffgaff offers low tariffs but has no shiny stores to pay for, and no phone-based customer care either – just a website and a forum full of knowledgeable, active users who can help you in seconds if you need assistance. The types you might say, that would be very likely to want to be early adopters of a fast network to really make the most of data, and would probably pay a bit more to get it. A bit more – maybe 100% more – but not 260% more.

One has to wonder who EE is aiming for, with its big stores, big phones, and its big prices. Not me. I sent the helper on his way, and I went on mine.

EE names its price

After months, nay years, of waiting, what is arguably the most important date for UK LTE is here. EE, the network that will launch the UK’s first national LTE service a week today, has announced its prices, giving UK consumer a first look at what they will have to pay to use the service. And as they say, the proof is in the pricing.

The prices cover subsidised smartphone plans, SIM-only plans, mobile broadband USB,  mobile wifi devices, and fixed-line broadband using both standard ADSL and fibre-to-the-cabinet, but what will interest the man/woman on the street though are the phone plans – and the starting tariff is £36 a month for a phone with unlimited calls, unlimited texts—and 500MB of data. A 1GB allowance is £41, 5GB takes it up to £36. The top-tier is an 8GB allowance at £56.

Move to SIM-only and 500MB will cost you ‘only’ £21. Its £25 for 1GB, £31 for 3GB and £36 for 5GB. There’s no 8GB SIM-only option for some reason.

This could be a problem.

Assuming a download speed of 15Mbps (we actually saw 27Mbps in the speed test at launch), and that entry-level 500MB of data could be downloaded in less than five minutes. Which, assuming 43,800 minutes in a month, would leave you with 43,795 minutes remaining with which you can’t not use the internet on your 4G phone.  You could pace yourself of course – but that would equate to around 10 seconds of full-tilt LTE a day. Whoopee.

Of course, that’s an exaggeration of real world use – you don’t tend to use that much data in one go on your phone, but even snacking on data, 500MB is a little on the lean side, to say the least.

What these expensively priced data buckets don’t seem to take into account is the way that LTE should change the way people uses their phones. Fast access will make using cloud and streaming services second nature – but if they do, they will run into their data allowances almost immediately.

Olaf Swantee, the chief executive of EE told Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology Correspondent for the BBC that, “”We really think we’ve priced it at the sweet spot,” and, “it’s all based on months of consumer research.”

From the look of my Twitter feed the UK public would beg to differ.

This from UK tech site TechRadar – “Lots of anger about EE’s 4G pricing – if it was £36/month for 1GB, would that sway you? What would you be willing to pay?”

This from a punter – “If I switch to a 4G contract (still paying £36/month) my data allowance goes from Unlimited to 500MB! Kept that one quiet! @EE.” and “Over promising and over pricing! When will@ThreeUK have 4G.”

The Editor of PC Pro said, “EE has just blown all first-mover advantage with those ridiculous 4G tariffs. Shareholders must hold CEO accountable.”

And this from yours truly – “Initial reaction to @EE prices – they’re horrible. 5GB SIM only for £36? That’s a 260% hike on what I currently pay for data. I’m out. #4G.”

On the plus side there are some real positives. EE has said that tethering is allowed, as is VoIP and for £5 a month extra, the tariffs can be used when roaming across Europe and is several other selected countries, among which are Australia, China, India, Israel, Russia and the USA. In addition, free access to BT wifi is included, and as a value-add, EE is offering EE Film, which enables customers to stream one film of choice to any device a month, without impacting their data allowance.

The fact that despite promises that EE would only place a modest premium on LTE, these are in fact premium prices for a premium service. The mass market will have to wait for the other networks to join the LTE party (and if you’re an die-hard iPhone fan that will mean an iPhone 6 will be required  – the iPhone 5 will not support 800/2.6GHz LTE).

From a pure industry perspective, EE’s rivals in the market should be pleased with EE’s pricing strategy. Theyr’e not too low that all the value has been taken out of the market at the start, and there’s scope for them  to be more competitive when their services come online.

When that happens EE will be likely to be forced to lower prices, but for now, the price levels indicate that it is trying to take as much advantage of its first mover position as possible to generate revenue. That‘s good news for the industry – but less so for the consumer.

UK carriers joining forces over 800MHz LTE

Good news in the UK LTE market, as Three, EE, Telfonica and Vodafone have actually joined forces to speed up the use of 800MHz for mobile broadband.

One of the issues around the use of 800MHz is that the signals are likely to knock out terrestrial digital TV signals, known in the UK as Freeview. The four operators have created the Digital Mobile Spectrum group, which is tasked with ensuring that Freeview consumers in the UK do not suffer from interference from 800MHz LTE, an issue that if not dealt with could put a stumbling block on launching the technology. Under the plans, the four will contribute to a 180m pot of cash that will be used for equipment to tackle interference that up to an estimated 2.3m homes could face once 800MHz LTE launches. However, any operator that fails to win any 800MHz spectrum will not have to contribute and will drop out of the company.

How it will work in practice is that eligible households will receive a voucher to cover the cost of a special filter, which will be attached to the Freeview box in the living room. In some situations the funding will pay for an engineer visit, and in extreme situations where there’s no chance of terrestrial TV working again – presumably is they live right next to a LTE800MHz macros station. Interestingly, for around 500 homes in the UK, there will be no acceptable alternative – it’s unclear if the fund will extend to letting these poor people move home. (NB. This is a joke).

Either way, it’s a market of how serious the government and the operators to get this 4G thing moving and the coming together is in everyone’s interest.

Ofcom, the UK regulator pulled out an unusual masterstroke in allowing Everything Everywhere to refarm its spare 1800MHz frequency for LTE despite it clearly placing it at an advantage over its rivals who do not have such spectrum to spare. After initially throwing their toys out the pram, the move has clearly made the rival realise that they need to fight back with network engineers rather than with lawyers and get their own LTE plans going to earn revenue.

Therefore Three, Vodafone, and Telefonica won’t want anything to further delay their LTE plans, while Everything Everywhere will not want to be seen to be unfairly extended their LTE lead, which from an initial 12 months is now more likely to be six months.

As far as UK consumers go that’s a win.

How MetroPCS has handled interference between macro and small cells is one of the discussion points in the tracks that Small Cells North America conference being co-located at LTE North America 2012 taking place on the 14-15th November 2012. Click here to register your interest

4G in the UK: Timelines settled, now fight for the customers

This is a guest post by Francesco Radicati, an analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, provider of strategic insight, global market data and primary research.

The UK’s 4G saga may have reached its climax in August with Everything Everywhere receiving permission to launch its own LTE network early, but the story isn’t over yet. UK regulator Ofcom announced yesterday that it would move forward the auction for the Digital Dividend creating by switching off analogue TV, and that clearance of TV transmitters will be brought forward by around five months.

This is a clear concession to O2 and Vodafone, who were the most vocal in criticizing the decision to let EE launch 4G on its 1800MHz spectrum. Given the uncertainty over dates and the long lead times, both operators faced potential waits of around a year to launch their own 4G networks. Add to that the fact that Apple’s new iPhone 5, which hit the market just a few weeks after Ofcom’s announcement, only supports LTE over the 1800MHz frequency in the UK; this might not be an operator’s worst nightmare, but it must certainly be high on the list.

As I said back in August, the danger remained of O2 and Vodafone mounting a legal challenge to stop EE being able to launch its 4G network. But it looks like we’ve avoided that particular nuclear option, which would have caused even more delays; more to the point, it looks like everybody’s (just about) gotten what they wanted.

Click here to to read the rest of the post:

EE LTE speeds – on test!

Here are two videos taking at the Science Museum in London following the launch event for EE’s LTE network, which will cover 16 cities across the UK by the end of the year.

Excuse the dodgy camera work, but here we see a quick speed test of EE UK’s LTE network run on a HTC One XL. The 51ms Ping is actually higher than I would have hoped, but 27.8Mbps downlaod and over 19.4Mbps upload is not to be sniffed at for my first experience of UK LTE. Considering I only get 5Mbps upload on my home broadband it’s hard not be be impressed.

Here we see a simple test -Angry Birds being downloaded and installed on a Samsung Galaxy SIII. As is pretty obvious from the video, the one on the left is a 3G handset and the one of the right is LTE. The LTE one has the game downloading, installed and the first level completed, before the 3G is even half way through. (Well two out of three ain’t bad).

Why LTE networks are like buses

There has been some major developments in the UK LTE market today as the regulator Ofcom announced that it will permit Everything Everywhere (the Orange/T-Mobile merger) to re-farm its 1800MHz spectrum for use with LTE. Ofcom has now issued “varied licences to EE which authorise LTE services from 11 September 2012”, and it has told Telecoms.com that it had plans to launch in “certain key locations in the UK by the end of this year”.

The results – howls of protest from the EE’s UK rivals. Their issue is that as they don’t hold licenses for 1800MHz they will have to wait for next year’s auction, currently set to start at the start of 2013, for the chance to bid for 800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum. This could put them almost a year behind in the LTE marketing stakes.

Ofcom said its decision was because, “delaying doing so would therefore be to the detriment of consumers.”

Vodafone though has said quite the opposite claiming that, “the regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market.”

Analysing this, Vodafone is trying to suggest that consumers will be better served by having them wait for everyone to launch at once – which doesn’t really hold up. Certainly EE will have a competitive advantage by offering LTE first as there’s serious pent up demand for LTE. Yes, in the long term, consumers will be able to benefit even more from competition in the market once the rest of the players get hold of spectrum via the auction but undoubtedly they will benefit by having access to it as soon as possible

Of course, it won’t matter who has an LTE network if the devices aren’t there. As Informa’s Principal Analyst Thomas Wehmeier says, “Another critical task that lies ahead for EE will be to convince the world’s leading device manufacturers to build smartphones for their network. You can build the network, but without the right devices the customers cannot and will not come”

On the mobile broadband side, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem as the device eco-system is growing, ZTE is producing 1800MHz dongles for CSL in Hong Kong for example. But on the devices side it’s a bit more limited. In Australia, Telstra is offering the HTC One XL, Velocity, the windows-based Titan 4G, and the Samsung Galaxy SII. However, the flagship Galaxy SIII is not LTE 1800 capable. The other big one of course is the iPhone 5. No one knows what that will support LTE at all, and if it does, at what frequencies, but if 1800 is in there, it will be a massive win for EE. (If not Apple and EE will have to be careful, to avoid the hoopla around the iPad’s 4G incompatibility with European and Australian LTE).

What’s really interesting is this from Informa’s Wehmeier. “The ruling issued today applies to the full chunk of 1800MHz spectrum that Everything Everywhere owns in the UK, including the 2x15MHz that it is being forced to divest as a result of conditions imposed on the Orange-T-Mobile merger by the European Commission. The clarity on the potential use of that spectrum will provide fresh impetus to the sale negotiations with Hutchison 3G (3) the clear favourite to land the spectrum. The sale must be finalised by 30 September 2012 meaning the UK could conceivably see two 4G networks up and running by Christmas.”

So after years being behind the 4G curve we may get two networks at once. It’s a funny old world.

UK LTE finally gets a date

There’s playing hard to get, and then there’s Ofcom and LTE. After a seemingly endless period of delays, the UK regulator has finally announced that it has set a date for the auction of spectrum for 4G services – and that date, according to the Ofcom release is, – “as soon as possible”. The only actual date given is 11 September 2012, which is when consultation on the legal document that outlines the auction rules will close. (Yes, more consultations). After that Ofcom ‘expects’ the auction process to be start before the end of the year with the actual bidding process will take place is early 2012.

Ofcom said it expects the networks to start rolling out from mid-2013 with services live later in the year. So it could be a full year before consumers will actually be using LTE in the UK using this new spectrum. This seems like a long, long wait when the US has been up and running with LTE in a major way since Verizon launched services in December 2010. Across Verizon, AT&T, Metro PCS and U.S. Cellular, the USA now has around 15 million active LTE subscribers. Let’s not forget our friends in Korea – 4G adoption there has already reached 17% of the current mobile user base.

While the US and other parts of the world are clearly taking the lead for LTE, the consensus is that the UK is lagging the rest of Europe. However, when you look closely the rest of the continent isn’t too far ahead. Germany has had LTE since Vodafone launched in mid 2011, but according to Informa WCIS stats as of June 2012 only 0.26% of the country is using LTE. Italy and France has some coverage but subscriber numbers are yet to register. Telia Sonera launched the world’s first LTE network in December 2009, but as of June only 1.66% of its subscribers are using LTE. Placed in that context, the UK is not quite in the 4G backwater that some might think.

In fact, one could consider it beneficial coming late to the LTE party. By the middle of next year consumers will be able to benefit from more mature and more affordable LTE devices, due to improved technology and economies of scale. To take one, rather important example, Apple will have plenty of time to produce an iPhone and iPad with LTE chipset suitable for UK use. Even if LTE in the iPhone 5 isn’t ready for the UKs 800 and 2.6GHz frequencies, the next one certainly will be.

There’s also good news in the one of the 800MHz licences will require indoor coverage of 98% by 2017. This is a clever move, in that Ofcom only has to force one operator to do this, and the others will be likely to follow suit in order to keep up for competitive reasons. Ofcom has also given expected coveage figures of caround 98%. This, rather than speed, could in fact be the killer difference over 3G. Just this weekend I was out in the country, and while there was GPRS coverage, anything beyond patient checking of email was out of the question. If you can travel countrywide and always have the expectation of data access, then the revolution will not be televised – it will be streamed live to your smartphone.

Ofcom’s also decided to reserve some spectrum for a fourth operator, which as it points out might not necessarily be Huthison’s 3. Well, that’s a bit exciting. A bit.

If 3 doesn’t win the spectrum, it seems unlikely that it could continue in the long term in the UK and with fixed line providers such as BT, Virgin and even O2, having a nationwide wifi strategy, they could well have an eye on picking up that LTE spectrum.

Of course there’s still a chance that the UK could see LTE by the end of the year. Everything Everywhere has already submitted its application to launch LTE in the UK by the end of the year using refarmed 1800Mhz spectrum. In response to today’s news it’s released a statement to say: “the auction is only one step towards bringing 4G to Britain. Everything Everywhere is committed to bringing 4G to the UK this year, and the next milestone will be the regulator’s response to our request to roll out 4G over our existing 1800MHz spectrum without further delay.”

So once again, we’re left waiting for Ofcom. We have indeed hit a milestone, there are plenty more to hit, before the UK’s LTE story is anywhere near to properly getting going.

The LTE Asia 2012 conference is taking place on the 8-9 September 2012 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Click here to register your interest.

The blame game

The UK has been waiting a long time for LTE, and according to ED Vaizey, the UK’s communications minister, it’s going to have to wait a fair bit longer. Speaking at the Future Entertainment Summit (FES) in London, he told the delegates that while UK regulator Ofcom was taking the head to the delay, the fault lies at the door of the telecoms companies and their coterie of lawyers who are poised to attack.

Vaizey said that 4G, as LTE is now called, would arrive in 2013/2014, which implies the end of 2013. “”We are not going to clear the spectrum until the end of 2013 and Ofcom needs to go through a massive process [with 4G] as it will get sued by telcos if it doesn’t get it right. So, if you are looking at what is delaying it, it is not Ofcom it is the telecom companies.”

It’s not news to anyone following the UK telecoms industry, but Vaizey’s words have been picked up by a wider audience at the FES event and shown just how much the UK really is being left behind when it comes to mobile communications. LTE is becoming ever more widespread and just today it was announced that O2 has launched LTE in the Czech Republic. I imagine that some visitors to London for the Olympics will be surprised to find that there’s not LTE in London.

It seems the best hope is still the announcement by Everything Everywhere that it would launch by the end of 2012 using its spare 1800MHz capacity, which doesn’t require any of that spectrum clearing. Here’s hoping it goes ahead, and that Ofcom has the cojones to let it happen, regardless of the legal threats.

Good vibrations in the UK: Vodafone and O2 come together

ImageThere have been major developments in the UK mobile operator market today with the news that Vodafone and O2, the UK arm of Telefonica, would be coming together and sharing resources in order to build their networks faster.

It’s a direct response, if somewhat delayed, to the threat from Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between Orange (France Telecom) and T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom ), and Three (Hutchison Whampoa). It’s not an entirely new venture, as the two have been sharing some sites since 2009 in a venture called Cornerstone, but this takes it from 4000 sites up to 18,500 masts and towers shared.

It’s not a full joint venture as with Everything Everywhere – customers won’t be able to choose between Vodafone and O2 signals, and the two companies will continue to compete in every other way.

It’s great news.

The two operators claim that this deal will bring 2G and 3G coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population by 2015, finally dealing with the many notspots that continue to plague this not particularly large country.

What’s particularly welcome is that the pair claim that it will enable them to bring 4G,by which we have to assume means LTE, quicker than they would separately. Ofcom, the UK regulator stipulates that there should be 98 per cent coverage of 4G by 2017 so this should help them meet that claim.

Network sharing does seem to be the way forward, especially in these cash strapped town. It simply makes sense from an efficiency point of view. Is there much sense in having the same areas covered by multiple networks by rival network offering essentially the same service.

The two companies said that the consolidation could also enable them to trim the fat and they could shrink the sites they run by 10 per cent.

Speaking at the LTE World Summit last month, Eduardo Duato, CTO at Orange Spain said as much, pointing out that while the US makes do with just four major networks, Europe, roughly the same size land mass, has over 100. He called on his local regulators and all those across Europe to support operator’s sharing prospects. “It doesn’t make sense to have this many networks [in Europe]” he said “we have to move to LTE network sharing.”

Vodafone and O2 seem to agree with him.

The move will mean that there will essentially two networks running in the UK – the MBNL network that powers Everything Everywhere and 3, and the extended Cornerstone network of Vodafone and O2.

So what do we have here then? Intelligent combining of resources, offering the potential for much improved coverage and accelerated roll out of next gen LTE services, and all with some extra cost cutting thrown in.

It all sounds alarmingly, well, sensible. At this rate, we could have operators making money and even satisfied customers.

Crazy times.

New iPad no longer called iPad + 4G in the UK

After a long, drawn out saga, Apple has finally been made to change how it promotes the new iPad on its UK web store. After complaints to the UK advertising authority, ASA, from this week, the word 4G does not appear on its UK web site. Instead, the SIM equipped device is now just referred to as ‘Wi-Fi + Cellular’. No more confused UK punters.

To be honest, I’m not particularly keen on the term ‘Cellular’ as iIt has a distinctly US flavour to it. We don’t call our networks ‘Cellular’ any more than we spell flavour without the letter ‘u’.  But it is a more realistic description of the devices capabilities in this country and as such a reasonable conclusion. Can we move on now?

Apple explained the move in a statement that said “Carriers do not all refer to their high speed networks with the same terminology, therefore we’ve decided to use “Wi-Fi + Cellular” as a simple term which describes all the high speed networks supported by the new iPad.  The advanced wireless features of the new iPad have not changed.”

It got into this mess though because it was happy to label its device as 4G, even though it’s only works as 4G in the US and Canada. While LTE/4G is edging ever closer in the UK, this new iPad won’t do the 4G thing – its frequencies are just not compatible. One would hope and suspect, that next year’s model will offer an integrated LTE chipset that is friendlier to European frequencies, but that is of course dependant on the progress made by the chipset providers, which in all likelihood means Qualcomm. By the time the next iPad comes out there should be a large addressable market across Europe for a multi frequency chipset to be produced in enough numbers to ensure economies of scale kick in. Bring it on.

Wishing on an LTE star: LTE in the UK finally on its way

ImageFor 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.

Is the UK holding up LTE smartphones?

It seems that I was wrong the other day about HTC bringing the first LTE phone to Europe via Vodafone. While the HTC is little while off, according to ITWorld, the Samsung Galaxy S II LTE is apparently winging its way to stores in Sweden. The country, along with Norway, has had an LTE service since TeliaSonera launched in 2009, making it one of the first launches in the world. However, up till now there have been no smartphones available, which compares unfavourably with the US, which has a whole bunch on offer on AT&T, Verizon and even ‘lil ol’ Metro PCS.

The reason is simply one of economies of scale. As all LTE phone in the US operate on one of the 700MHz bands and there’s quite a large market, it’s worth it for it for Samsung and HTC to produce LTE phones. In Europe, LTE has been scarcer than a train running on time on my work commute, so there’s been little incentive for the device manufacturers to produce one.

Now it seems that smartphones are beginning to trickle through, and no doubt we’ll see a lot more LTE related announcement at Mobile World Congress in a couple of weeks. What we want is it to turn into a flood and the damn holding it back though is likely to be the UK (damn UK).

It might not be the largest but there’s no doubt that the UK is one of the major markets in Europe, and as the LTE auction isn’t even taking place until later in the year no one is expecting a live network until 2014 at the earliest. The sluggishness of the UK market could well have a knock on effect on the whole of the European smartphone LTE market. Once European users start carrying LTE enabled handset it might spur the UK operators to make sure they stop their bickering and press on with their LTE plans.

Samsung beating HTC to the punch is also another blow for the Taiwanese manufacturer which has recently been struggling with poor recent results, mainly down to the rise of Samsung’s Galaxy line.

Is there an LTE network on its way near you? Do you already use LTE but are you frustrated at the lack of a compatible handset?

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