Superfast Broadband Here By 2013?
Internet connections have come a long way since the drawn out process that was dial-up and now many consumers wouldn't hesitate to call their providers if a page took longer than 10 seconds to upload. The blight of prolonged buffering has also largely been consigned to the past as a result of superfast fibre optic broadband. Computer, tablet and smartphone users can now surf the internet for hours on end without a care in the world.
Now things are set to get even better with Ofcom's announcement that
fourth generation (4G) bandwidth for mobile phone services could be
available in the UK from late 2013.
The telecoms regulator argued
that it will begin the auction of two spectrum bands - 800 MHz and 2.6
GHz, at the start of next year.
A recent survey conducted by YouGov found demand for the introduction of 4G services was strong amongst the UK public. 74% of those surveyed argued that they would like the technology to be introduced at the earliest possible date while 82% felt that 4G networks were essential to the UK maintaining its position in the global market place.What can we expect from 4G?02
, the leading mobile operator, has been conducting a trial of 4G in London since December. Average connection speeds for participants have been 20-50Mbps while 02 is said to have achieved speeds of up to 150Mbps from its own connections.
The 'click-to-bang', the time it takes to upload a file, was also an impressive 0.7 seconds. This means that a 40MB file would take just seconds to load via the 4G network.
Commenting on the trial and the way 4G will revolutionise mobile connections, Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Telefónica UK (O2), said: "The forthcoming spectrum auction is a watershed moment for the UK mobile industry, releasing the airwaves that will power a whole range of exciting next generation mobile services.
"The new spectrum will increase capacity, quality and speed (we estimate that mobile broadband capacity will increase by 20 to 40 times from today's levels) and will allow us to deliver true connectivity through a suite of innovative digital services that work seamlessly and at speed for the benefit of consumers, business and UK plc."
However, a report by Ofcom into 4G argued that while we can expect speeds of 3Gbps by 2020, the advent of new technologies may mean that next generation bandwidth may struggle to meet the demands placed on it.
"Our results show that 4G gains in cell spectrum efficiency will not be enough to keep pace with demand growth and that topology will gain increasing importance in 4G network capacity," said the report.
Despite these potential stumbling blocks, 4G is set to provide 10 million people with superfast broadband who were previously unable to access the service as well as injecting £75bn per year into the UK's economy on an annual basis.
This is according to mobile network, Everything Everywhere (EE), which was formed with the merging of T-Mobile
, who argued that 4G services are essential.
Olaf Swantee, Chief Executive of EE, said: "This research highlights the significant economic and social benefits that 4G will bring to the UK - already enjoyed in over 30 countries around the world.
"The UK has the highest levels of smartphone
penetration and mobile commerce in Europe and Britons deserve to have the best infrastructure in place to support this growth.
"This is a call for attention to be brought to this issue, to stop battling in the background and let us catch up with the other 34 countries that have already launched 4G services."