back to article Ofcom flogs ex-military 4G spectrum, but ONLY the iPhone 5 can use it

A fresh round of 4G spectrum auctions are in the offing as Ofcom proposes selling off surplus military frequencies at 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz, despite the fact that only the iPhone 5 can make any use of it. Another 190MHz of 4G spectrum will be up for grabs next year after being discarded by the military and heading for the auction …


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  1. Ted Treen
    Big Brother

    Oh yeah??

    Official 'consultation'??


    We'll tell you what you're going to do:

    You tell us why it's not a good idea

    We tell you "Tough - it's what you're going to do anyway".

  2. g.marconi

    This may not be as difficult a problem as it seems. Most of the radios in mobile phoes these days are actually capable of using many different frequencies, some already have as many as five bands available.

    Often when they go to market in a certain country only those bands used in that country are enabled, but others could be enabled by a software up-date.

    1. PaulR79

      You're kidding right?

      There's no way they'll miss the chance to offer region X only phones while offering some thinly veiled excuse that using more frequences will somehow reduce signal strength allowing them to only enable, conveniently, those in a specific market.

      1. James 51

        Re: You're kidding right?

        Or go in for region locking the sims like samsung have done.

  3. ARGO

    iPhone 5? Nope.

    "but the handsets available in that market don't support the European LTE bands, with the notable exception of iPhone 5 variants"

    Wrong on all counts I'm afraid.

    Some iPhone 5S and 5C variants have it; iPhone 5 doesn't.

    Some handsets from LG and Samsung sold in Australasia also have 2300 in combination with European bands. As do some dongles and routers from ZTE and Huawei.

    1. Michael Jennings

      Re: iPhone 5? Nope.

      Depends what you mean by "European bands". The TDD capable variants of the Samsung (and I think also LG) devices sold in Australia support the FD-LTE at 1800MHz and 2600MHz (bands used in much of the world, including Europe), but do not support the Europe only 800MHz digital dividend band. If sold in Europe, these devices would work on FD-LTE in areas with 1800MHz and 2600MHz coverage, but not in areas with 800MHz coverage only. The iPhone 5C and 5S are at present the only devices for which a variant exists that supports FD-LTE at 800MHz, 1800MHz, and 2600MHz, as well as FDD at 2300MHz. I can't imagine this is a problem. There will be many more devices that support all these bands available long before this spectrum is even auctioned.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Frequencies on the up..

    Why would any operator want to purchase spectrum at even higher frequencies that are currently used here? It's poorer propogation characteristics mean even higher infrastructure costs in order to provide even a reasonable level of coverage for any given area. I'm not just talking 'range' here, but through-structure penetration as well.

    Yes, the increased bandwidth (In pure MHz) available at those frequencies is attractive, but running a nationwide service would require lots more infrastructure, no matter how optimistic your radio planning software is and how good your antenna performance is!

    While I am certainly NOT a member of the tinfoil-hat brigade. I'd like to point out we know there have been extensive studies re the effect of Electromagnetic Radiation in the more traditional '2G' and '3G' bands...but, and I'd love to be wrong here, I don't think much is known (as opposed to assumed!) about the effect of an ERP of a watt or so of 3.4Ghz non-ionising radiation next to your head or close to the body. Given that your domestic microwave works around 2.4Ghz, I'd have thought that going up in frequency was not a good idea [ And yes, I'm aware that frequencies LOWER than 2.4Ghz are actually more efficient at heating live or dead flesh - hopefully only the latter would be found in microwave ovens :-) ].

    I guess someone would have to consider the effect of 3.4Ghz RF Immunity on a range of body implants or prostheses..

    Answers on a postcard to /dev/null, please.

    1. hplasm

      Re: Frequencies on the up..

      "... live or dead flesh - hopefully only the latter would be found in microwave ovens :-)"

      Just wait a few minutes, then this is true for all cases...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Frequencies on the up..

      Lower freq's always more desirable of course, but there may well be a use case in years to come as LTE load ramps up, particularly in dense urban areas, where 2.3GHz or even 3.4GHz could provide capacity relief to the existing carrier aggregation will increase flexibility and allow the operators to shout about their peak bitrates

  5. HMB

    All Good

    I think this is good news dressed up as chaos. I'm very happy that this spectrum is being made available.

    Phone releases don't usually mean spectrum authorities releasing spectrum. Spectrum authorities releasing spectrum however, do usually mean phones released that can use it.

    I can go with TDD, but I want my fat upload. I want to be able to stream HD video from my phone to someone else, because why not?

    I wonder at full duplex, full load usage, what the efficiency of TDD is in relation to FDD.

  6. Desk Jockey

    Radar love

    Someone had better want these bands and pay good money for them considering how much pain Ofcom have gone and put all the aviation radar users through. A goodly number of aviation radars (the ones that stop planes crashing into each other) operate witihin the 2.4ghz to 3.1Ghz band and quite a few have needed modifications to allow this spectrum to be sold off. I just hope those modifications work as advertised otherwise there will be more pain to come...

  7. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    "I wonder at full duplex, full load usage, what the efficiency of TDD is in relation to FDD."

    Pretty similar. It's not like normal wifi where devices just flail about and transmit randomly when they feel like it*; the cell site coordinates access and there is very little guard time used. So, using TDD it'll spend about 50% of the time downstream and 50% upstream under full load (assuming the cell co doesn't decide to prioritize downstream or something.). This makes it sound like "Oh no my downstream will be cut in half!". But keep in mind if you are running, say, 20mhz of TDD, if you were using FDD it'd be 10mhz down and 10mhz up anyway.

    Under typical load, of course, there's much more downstream than upstream, so the TDD will be faster under typical load. And if there's an atypical load (like a whole stadium of people send picture messages at once) it can even use most of it for upstream. That's the advantage over FDD, where it's always split right down the middle.

    *802.11 had a "point coordination function" mode where the access point would strictly control channel access. But I've never seen anything implement it.

  8. bigdish

    FD-LTE doesn't have to be deployed symmetrically - you can have asymmetrically-sized uplink and downlink channels, you can even (in theory) vary the bandwidths of the channels dynamically over time if you wanted to...TD-LTE would probably still be more flexible though with a lower 'flexibility management' overhead

    also, a thought about the spectrum itself. Other posters are right to question the reach/penetration of signals at 2.3 and 3.4GHz, but I would expect this new spectrum to be snapped up for small cell use - femtos and picos - for LTE-HI type deployments, where reach and penetration are negligible concerns compared to capacity and throughput

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