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4G Mobile Could Reach 10 Million UK People in Superfast Broadband Notspots

Monday, April 30th, 2012 (8:46 am) - Score 717
4g britain uk

Everything Everywhere (Orange UK and T-Mobile) has today kicked off their new 4GBritain campaign, which calls on the industry and government to help speed up the country’s rollout of superfast Mobile Broadband services, by claiming that next generation “4G” tech could reach “at least10 million people who won’t be able to get a fixed line superfast broadband ISP by 2020.

The communication provider appears to have commissioned Capital Economics to help it produce a sparkling list of “significant economic and social benefits“, which could all allegedly be had via the introduction of 4G mobile services. This is based on a “conservative” coverage roll-out to 95% of the population.

Olaf Swantee, CEO of Everything Everywhere, 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.”

Mark Pragnell of Capital Economics said:

The introduction of 4G mobile broadband will create substantial long-term benefits for the economy and consumers, ultimately boosting UK GDP by as much as half a percentage point. The near-term £5.5bn private industry investment we project is substantial – and opportune for the wider economy given the recent investment slump.”

Other Potential Benefits of 4G by 2020 (Independent Capital Economics Study)

* Add 0.5% (equivalent to £75bn today) to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of the decade. This is based on a projected industry wide roll-out of 4G starting at the latest in 2013, which could allegedly save UK businesses 37 million hours of time per year waiting for downloads.

* Unlock £5.5 billion of direct private investment into the UK economy by 2015 (in addition to revenue from government spectrum auctions)

* Create or safeguard 125,000 UK jobs

The campaign itself isn’t supported by any of the other major mobile operators (unless you count Virgin Media), although Three UK and Vodafone are both said to be looking at it. Needless to say that there is some scepticism in the industry about EE’s motives, especially since the group hasn’t always been so helpful in encouraging the release of new spectrum (unless it’s to their benefit).

EE are also known to have a vested interest in ensuring that Ofcom, the regulator, allows them to use the 1800MHz band for “4G” services. But their rivals are understandably unhappy about the idea of EE being given a head start. Freeing up the 1800MHz band would allow them to launch 4G in 2012 instead of late 2013 / early 2014 as planned for everybody else via the Q4-2012 auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum.

Since then the groups rivals, such as O2, Vodafone and Three UK, have waded in with some fairly heavy, and in a few cases even justifiable, criticism (1800Mhz decision delayed) that looks to be holding up EE’s ambitions. But the fight isn’t just about 1800MHz. Operators have been arguing over 800MHz since almost as long as we can remember and many now suspect that the issue will not be resolved until after its gone to court, which could delay the process again.

As for that claim of superfast “4G” reaching 10 million people who can’t get a fixed line superfast broadband connection, it’s not completely clear how they worked that out (they appear to expect the UK governments scheme to fail). At present the UK has no plans beyond 90% coverage of superfast broadband (25Mbps+) by 2015, although Europe’s Digital Agenda expects 100% to have access to at least 30Mbps+ by 2020 (either by mobile/wireless or fixed line).

The UK government has repeatedly warned mobile operators to stop their bickering but stopped short of threatening any new legislation, which might encourage a change of heart.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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