back to article Ofcom ploughs up UK spectrum fields, reseeds them with 4G

Ofcom has published plans to refarm mobile radio spectrum into 4G goodness, letting operators deploy whatever technology they like in their existing holdings as well as the bands on which they're currently bidding. The proposals aren't surprising: Ofcom has made it clear that restricting bands to specific technologies is …


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  1. oopsie


    3dB is 8 times the power?

    I thought 6dB was a doubling of power / 3dB was a doubling of voltage or some such?

    1. tremtastic

      Re: 3dB

      There's some poor maths going on in the article.

      I think the author is assuming that 3dB means there is 2^3 times the power.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: 3dB

      An increase of 3dB is twice the power. 10dB is 10 times the power. Bels are base 10 logs, decibels 10 times that.

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: 3dB

      Monday morning. More coffee needed. Article fixed.


  2. Velv

    Scottish Coverage

    The coverage requirements for the UK will become so much simpler to achieve if Alex Salmond can find enough suckers to vote for his hair-brained independence scheme - one third of the area of the UK would no longer need service with the loss of less than 10% of the potential customer population.

    Expect tariffs to go through the roof with fewer telcos and less profit per square mile.

    1. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: Scottish Coverage

      You are quite free to move to England if it bothers you that much.

  3. djstardust

    Ha ha ....

    I have two masts exactly a mile away each side of my house. I get patchy voice coverage and no data whatsoever. That is on Three, however the O2 mast is closer and I only get GPRS.

    P.S. I am beside a large industrial estate in the "Oil Capital of Europe" .......

    There are huge black holes all over the place that need fixed ASAP.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ha ha ....

      Well surely increasing the power is about better coverage / range for existing transmitters - so a good thing?

      1. Terry Barnes

        Re: Ha ha ....

        Probably... If the cell is dimensioned for the number of peak users expected in the current cell footprint, increasing the size of the cell will give congestion problems. That may or may not be solvable - in some cases you'll find that a bigger cell can't support the number of users it will attract.

  4. Mike Tubby

    Check your logarithms!

    El Reg: "The increase in transmission power is 3dB, which is marginally more exciting when one remembers that decibels are logarithmic (so a 3dB increase is eight times the power) but it's still well within safe margins and more about increasing coverage than microwaving locals..."

    I think you'll find that 3dB is a power doubling ...

    dB = 10 x log(p1/p2) [log to the base 10]

    So if we go from say 10 watts to 20 watts:

    dB = 10 x log(20/10)

    dB = 10 x log(2)

    dB = 10 x 0.3010

    dB = 3.01

    commonly known as 3dB.

    Incidentally, due to the inverse-squared power law this will increase the range by the square root of 2, for example 5Km -> 7km or 10Km -> 14Km which is a modest amount.


    1. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Check your logarithms!

      Well, it seems to me that an extra 40% range on existing masts will go a long was to filling in a whole bunch of black holes in otherwise well-covered areas, which can only be a good thing.


  5. Lunatik

    Plain English for us dummies?

    So, will this mean I'll be able to get 4G on my current iPhone 5 without having to sign up to the laughable 'upgrade' that Vodafone were proposing due to their frequencies not being compatible without a new handset come the rollout?

    If so, good news!

    If not, meh.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Plain English for us dummies?

      Probably not. EE's 4G is on the 1800MHz band. Vodafone has hardly any spectrum in that range.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Plain English for us dummies?

      It's the current iphone5 not being fully compatible with UK frequencies, NOT the UK mobile systems not being compatible with iphone5

  6. James 51

    What will happen to all the GSM phones when the technology in the base station swithes from 2G to 4G?

    1. Anna Logg

      @ James 51

      ..the same as will happen to the millions of smart meters and other M2M appliances that use GSM modems, they won't work. How OFCOM intend managing this issue - if they intend doing so - will be interesting to see.

      1. James 51

        Re: @ James 51

        That means that there are lots of phones out there that won't work in the UK. What about people with 2G phones traveling to the UK? Glad I didn't pick up one of those cheap dual SIM Nokia's now if they won't work here.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: @ James 51

          "That means that there are lots of phones out there that won't work in the UK"

          Just like all those old analogue phones which don't work anymore. (Here or in the USA)

      2. Terry Barnes

        Re: @ James 51

        I don't think that's exactly what the article says. there's no wholesale repurposing of frequencies going on, operators are just being allowed to use some GSM frequencies for 4G where needed.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Same as when O2 switched some 900MHz bandwidth over to 3G, they will still work. There aren't so many 2G phones these days so they don't need as much bandwidth as they used to.

      1. Obvious Robert

        Yes but there are also those of us who own extremely capable multi core smartphones who happen to spend a great deal of our working lives in buildings that magically evaporate any 3G signal, so we choose to switch over to 2G to both ensure we retain a signal and save battery life. Aside from that there are some more rural areas near me that have never had 3G at all. They couldn't possibly switch off GSM altogether, it'd be like switching off analogue TV... oh wait...

        1. Knoydart

          The amount of M2M devices installed will ensure that networks keep some 2G services active for a good while longer. Vodafone New Zealand have announced at least 7 years of 2G support for instance (well their vendors are offering it now). Should voice over LTE be widely implemented (and they get the 3GPP standards going), there could be slight change of dropping 3G services, using 2G for M2M and fall back voice, while LTE taking the bulk of packets what ever information they contain.

  7. Nifty Silver badge

    Double the power needed at the phone end?

    So masts might increase in power by 3 DB.

    At a given borderline reception point, does not mean that the handset will need to transmit 100% more power to be heard by the mast? So heating the phone up and halving battery life?

    Or is TX/RX 4g power asynchronous, so if a phone us uploading far less data t than it's receiving,. at least it's power consumption will be correspondingly lower than the mast's?

    1. Anna Logg

      Re: Double the power needed at the phone end?

      All other factors remaining equal then yes, the mobile would have to transmit twice as much power to maintain a balanced link. Seldom that straightforward in practice, but upping the base station maximum transmit power by 3dB isn't the 'easy win' it might first appear to be.

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  9. Simon Rockman

    I understand that operators have given some M2M customers assurance that 2G services will continue.

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