back to article Can't wait for 4G? Take heart, 5G is on the way

Mobile data volumes have increased 50 per cent in the year to June, having doubled over the year before that - so the crunch will always be with us. 5G just one of many data applications for spectrum that Ofcom wants you to think about. The regulator today published a spectrum consultation focusing on mobile data. Ofcom …


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  1. Mage Silver badge

    Biggest improvement?

    More Masts.

    About x10 to x20 more. Capacity rises just a bit less than linearly, but speed can increase by square law every time cell diameter is halved.

    So x16 more capacity and closer to max speed, have x20 more masts. Maybe need x2 channels in Urban/Suburban, but a single wholesale RAN and effectively make every retail an MVNO will double usable capacity on existing masts and allow more channels (needed for very small cells to avoid inter-cell interference).

    Small Cells = More capacity and much higher speed.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "in the future accessing the Public Service Broadcasters by IP"

    Good plan, if only we all had internet connection which were fast enough.

    And using the argument that the spectrum will be used for this it rural / outlying areas won't do either.

    Can't we just leave Freeview as it is __until__ an alternative is available, not in an attempt to force it?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: "in the future accessing the Public Service Broadcasters by IP"

      >Good plan, if only we all had internet connection which were fast enough.

      And the Internet backbone infrastructure can handle the traffic volumes and deliver the traffic in real-time like FM radio and analogue TV.

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: "in the future accessing the Public Service Broadcasters by IP"

      Someone just needs to remind them that without including Freeview radio in their total, they'll never hit the threshold for turning off FM. Should hold the idiots up for a few years trying to decide which plan to sacrifice.

  3. Refugee from Windows

    Quite and easy one really

    5G goes where 2G used to be in time. No extra allocations, less messing about and they don't have to even change the antennas. Why we'd expect to see four generations of tech running at the same time is a question I'd like to ask. How about the alternative - keep 2G as fallback and slowly morph the 3G networks to 5G.

    Of course OFCOM would like to get lots of moola selling off another bit of spectrum, and neither of the suggestions above would do that.

  4. Recaf


    Why is Ofcom so convinced the future of TV is IP? More than a decade after the first consumer broadband appeared in the UK there are still large swathes of the country that don't have it and 3G coverage is still patchy at best!

    1. tmcd35

      Re: IPTV?

      But, if you free up the frequencies used by TV and convert them for IP use, would that not provide faster than 3G coverage for the existing freeview channels to be streamed over? Just means everyone will have to replace their freeview box with 5G IPTV recievers, no?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IPTV?

        The problem is that Freeview is broadcast - one lot of bandwidth is used for hundreds of users.

        Mobile networks need one chunk per viewer.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: IPTV?

        >But, if you free up the frequencies used by TV and convert them for IP use, would that not provide faster than 3G coverage for the existing freeview channels to be streamed over?

        For this argument to hold, firstly Freeview's radio usage must be significantly less efficient than 3G/4G/5G achieve and secondly the protocols used by Freeview over this carrier must be totally inefficient, so that by encapsulating/converting them to IP with all the additional addressing and routing overhead, a greater density of payload data can be achieved. Also we shouldn't forget about the back channel that IP requires which Freeview doesn't, whilst potentially small it still needs to be provided...

        No whilst Freeview might benefit from advances in radio technology and compression to improve the effective volume of payload data it delivers over a given channel allocation, there is no way that IP could ever deliver the same volume of payload data over the same channel allocation - if there were, the constraints of the Freeview broadcast only system would permit the IP and other networking protocol header information to be stripped and so provide capacity for additional application traffic over and above what the IP service could provide...

        What does make sense is to combine Freeview with 5G, so that instead of watching BBC1 say via the IP connection, the client tunes to the appropriate Freeview channel, only using the IP connection to grab the section of the program missed prior to tuning in, if the user wishes to start at the beginning or rewind.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: IPTV?

      >Why is Ofcom so convinced the future of TV is IP?

      Because they've discovered the mobile networks are prepared to pay more for putting IP traffic over the air than the TV companies are prepared to pay for Freeview over the same channels...

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Historical allocation for TV

    Is a public good.

    Unlike anything likely to replace it in that spectrum.

  6. dogged

    doesn't matter

    Nobody will be will be able to afford EE's monopoly tariffs (rolled out inside the M25 only for the first 4 years) anyway.

  7. boony

    It's a consultation

    Not sure why people are getting bent out of shape because Free View Spectrum is being looked at some time in the next 16 years or so. Spectrum is a finite resource that has to be efficiently used.

    Small Cells are very useful in this regard, as when used in those heavily attenuated edges of a Macro cell, can provide the lacking coverage. MNO's are in the process of releasing RFP's for these and expect developments in the coming years. For rural area's, an amount of tax payer or EU subsidy may be needed to make the business case work.

    TV Broadcasters are trialing IP only networks at present, from capture to production through to distribution. It will take sometime and clearly infrastructure to reach every household currently able to receive a TV broadcast. The access mechanism to enable the TV services of the future are going to be a hurdle the country must overcome and I suspect the answer will be fibre or techniques utilising copper pairs. It is not beyond the realms of imagination that LTE-A and whatever comes after will also be a valid mechanism.

    Ofcom have put forward a consultation paper for the industry and consumers to respond too and given a realistic timeframe to plan for changes. Nobody is going to refarm the spectrum until costs, impacts and technology allows it to happen.

    Just my 2 penneth from within the industry.

  8. Return To Sender

    What's the point of more mobile bandwidth...

    ... if it costs you at least 10x more than non-mobile data. Most of the stuff I want to do out & about gets done by finding WiFi hotspots first where possible, as I'd rather not blow my month's allowance in a couple of hours.

    Maybe Ofcom should have some pointed words with the networks before letting 'em anywhere near new spectrum.

  9. Ian Ringrose

    Why do we need Free View as well as satellite?

    Given that satellites reaches even the most remove areas and everywhere else can get broadband, we need to question if FreeView is worth its bandwidth in the long term. Also way have all the “+1” chancels on FreeView when head disk recorders are not that expensive.

    A solution to satellite dishes on block of flats needs to be found, e.g. force the freeholder to install a communal system

    If all the church towers where used for 4G cells with Microwave back links, we could cover most of the country with 4G within a few years provided the will and funding was there.

    I would like to see free roaming onto any network, (pay for by my network) in any part of the UK when my network does not give me at least 3G coverage. This will give a nice income to the networks that do cover remote areas. Maybe in remove area allow a network to have exclusive right to cover the area for 5 years in exchange for them giving very good coverage of the area.

  10. M7S

    There's also the cost to end users

    You can bet your bottom dollar that IP in this spectrum for end users watching TV won't be "unlimited" and that therefore there will be a cost to the end user in terms of bandwidth usage etc. Now this may not bother those of you "buying" your boxsets from Sky, Netflix etc but all of a sudden it will cut a swathe into the viewing figures of much of the television output, and viewing of different programs at the same time by members of a family in different rooms would also be costly. (I remain deeply deeply traumatised by having to miss Planet of the Apes as it clashed with The Brothers in the early-mid 1970's)

    Whilst such a cull might improve quality a bit it would also make the producers less likely to back anything "risky" and therefore ultimately choice will deteriorate and we'll have even more repeats of Bargain Hunt. I would point out that it also means that you're paying to watch advertisments but on reflection, given that some people pay nearly £1000 p.a. to Rupert Murdoch for just that my arguement invalid on that point is rendered somewhat invalid.

  11. feanor

    Awesome, hopefully by the time they are talking about 57G my 3G signal might finally become usable....

  12. Zmodem

    ofcom chats the same ass every few months, and there will just be another 1000 comments saying it wont happen, freeview is all you can watch 24/7, and no ISP will every let you leave your tv watch HD and 3d movies 24/7 365 without charging your £30,000 a month instead of the already worthless £14 you have to pay for the bbc

  13. cpage

    Needs to be world-wide agreement on bands, not a little-England solution

    I am astonished how little there is in the OFCOM document on international portability. We already have 4g phones that will work in the UK but not in many other countries, and similarly if you buy a 4g phone in North America it won't work here. As people travel more, this is going to be more and more irksome. Even if roaming charges around the world stay high, at least the European Commission seems to be taking some action to curb the rapacity of the mobile providers within Europe.

    What OFCOM needs to do is work out what bands are likely to be available for 5g usage around the world and then see whether these same bands could be made available for the same purpose within the UK. Providing a solution that just works in a small area like the UK would be stupid.

    1. Zmodem

      Re: Needs to be world-wide agreement on bands, not a little-England solution

      what they should have done, is set freesat as standard instead of making everyone buy new freeview arials, when freesat box and satelite costs the same, even if all freeview channels are not on freesat, but that is just quest and really for the paranormal activity

  14. Rogue Jedi

    forget 4G and 5G, I want 3G

    Much of Suffolk England were I live has no 3G access,

    When the NHS outsourced some of its admin work a company who decided to save money by closing Suffolk offices and provide 3G enabled laptops for staff to work from home, they rapidly reconcidered on discovering that most of Suffolk could not get a 3G signal.

    I like living in a rural area but connectivity issues continue. I doubt Suffolk and the other rural counties will get 4G outside the largest towns or citys for several years.

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