IET says 4G mobile broadband plans need new approach

Monday, July 25th 2011
Capacity, coverage and regulation all pose a threat to the growth of next-generation services, according to the IET.
IET says 4G mobile broadband plans need new approach
The government is being urged to change its plans relating to the allocation of spectrum for next-generation mobile broadband services.

According to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the Conservative-led coalition must take "radical steps" to ensure the growth of the technology is not held back by red tape.

In order to get the maximum benefit from the new spectrum, a national strategy for the UK's mobile infrastructure must be drawn up, thereby supporting competitiveness, innovation and investment, the organisation argued.

The IET has identified three specific challenges to the development of mobile broadband and communications services - capacity, coverage and regulation.

Rapid growth in demand for mobile data usage is expected to continue, leaving network operators struggling to cope with the rising need for capacity and the ever-increasing speeds offered by fixed-line broadband.

Availability of "effective" mobile coverage is diminishing due to the adoption of higher reaches of the radio spectrum to increase current levels of capacity, the organisation claimed. To contend with this issue, Femtocells - designed to boost mobile signal - may be required in the future.

It also insisted competition between rival service providers is weakening, which could cause people to question whether the new infrastructure platforms being put in place are sufficient to support consumers and the creative industries.

Professor Will Stewart from the IET commented: "Growing demand for broadband is stretching the capability of existing networks.

"Wholesale network competition must perform better or we will fall further and further behind consumer expectations.

"It is important for the government and regulators to promote a vision for the future of mobile super-fast services that inspire sustainable investment and wider competition."

Network operators will soon have the opportunity to bid on the newly freed-up 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands in an effort to enhance their mobile broadband provision.

Ofcom, the industry regulator, is aiming to start the process in the first quarter of 2012, subject to consultation. 

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Comments (1)

26th July 2011
If only this problem were something new! With each new surge in consumer demand, the existing network has been pushed to the limits of capability -- and profitability. The hunger for the next generation of mobile broadband is here to stay, and to keep paying for the necessary upgrades, efficiency led by smart back office architecture will have to do more than keep pace.
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