Mobile

Ofcom’s Spectrum Management Strategy for the 2020’s

Ofcom has published a statement on its spectrum strategy, identifying three areas of increased focus:

Supporting wireless innovation: Making it even easier for a broad range of users to access spectrum by making more spectrum available for innovation before its long-term future use is certain; working to support innovation in new wireless technologies; and expanding work to understand, assist and inform the broad range of organisations who may benefit from wireless technologies in the future. (more…)

Update on Project Gigabit and the Shared Rural Network

Project Gigabit

The BDUK team at the DCMS has identified that 234,000 premises in Wales will be in scope of the Project Gigabit programme – meaning they won’t benefit from the commercial build and thus require public subsidy to go further. This includes rural towns and villages in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, the Isle of Anglesey, Pembrokeshire and Powys. The government will set out the timetable for the delivery of these connections once it has agreed on the procurement process with the Welsh Government. In addition, a further £24 million will fund the rollout of gigabit broadband in ten local authority areas in Northern Ireland. The Full Fibre Northern Ireland (FFNI) scheme will see 969 hospitals, GP surgeries, ambulance and fire stations, community and leisure centres, council offices and other public buildings connected to gigabit-capable networks. (more…)

Government launches SONIC Labs

The government has launched a real-world testing facility, SONIC Labs, to help accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and help Britain diversify its supply chain. The lab will bring in multiple providers to supply components for 5G radio equipment. It is being run by Ofcom and Digital Catapult, who have built the facility using existing Digital Catapult infrastructure and capability, £1 million of seed funding from DCMS, and a bespoke SONIC Labs branch as part of Ofcom’s Innovation Lab in Riverside House. It will work with a diverse range of vendors to explore new open approaches to telecoms networks.

This is part of the government’s Diversification Strategy and follows the establishment of the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce aimed at reducing the reliance on high-risk vendors and bringing more players into the market.

London’s tube network to be used to provide fibre and mobile connectivity to London

The London Mayor announced that high speed mobile coverage will be delivered across the London Underground network, alongside a new full-fibre network to provide London’s homes and businesses with faster internet and better connectivity.  The technology will support 4G and 5G rollout and will be the most advanced of its kind in the world, helping to support London’s economic growth. Work is underway across the Tube network, with first stations – including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Bank and Camden Town – going live by the end of 2022. (more…)

Ofcom Online Nation Report 2021

Ofcom’s Online Nation 2021 report provides a snapshot of 2020.

Key points:

  • 94% of UK households had internet access in March 2021 with 6% of homes (around one and a half million) without access.
  • UK adults spent more than 3.5 hours online each day in 2020 and spent nearly £2.45 billion on mobile apps across the year.
  • Fixed broadband is by far the most common method for connecting to the internet at home at 92%, mobile data at 49% and mobile broadband at 16%.
  • The smartphone is the most-used device for accessing the internet for all age groups apart from those aged 65+ who access via computer mostly. One in ten adults said they use only a smartphone to go online.
  • Teenagers are spending more money online than offline.
  • 59% of UK children use social media by the time they are 11 and 95% by the age of 15.
  • The UK’s online shopping bill increased by almost 50% to nearly £113 billion.
  • In total, online entertainment and audio-visual media generated £5.6 billion in UK revenue.

The full report can be found here.

Terms of Reference for Ofcom’s Mobile Strategy Review

As outlined in its Plan of Work 2021/22, Ofcom has published the terms of reference for its upcoming mobile strategy review. The aim of the review is to consider the following key areas:

  • What will good outcomes for people and businesses look like in 5-10 years’ time?
  • What impact are changes across the mobile value chain having on the market?
  • To what extent is the market likely to deliver good outcomes for people and businesses?

(more…)

Proposed changes to permitted development rights

A joint technical consultation between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been published today. It follows an earlier consultation in 2019 on the principle of the reforms. Views are being sought on proposed planning reforms that will allow the speedier deployment of telecoms equipment while keeping safeguards in place. (more…)

Wholesale Voice Markets Review 2021–26

Ofcom has published how it will regulate the markets that underpin landline and mobile telephone calls in the UK, for the period 2021-26.

On call termination, Ofcom is capping termination rates for calls made and received in the UK, based on the cost of connecting a call.

  • For calls to mobiles, the cap will be 0.379p per minute next year (lower than the current cap of 0.468p per minute).
  • The same cap will continue to apply to calls to ‘070’ numbers.
  • For calls to landlines, the current cap of 0.0292p per minute will continue to apply in real terms.
  • Incoming calls to the UK from abroad should be no more than the rate they are charged when their customers make calls to that international destination.

(more…)

Spectrum auction moves to the negotiation period

Following the announcement of the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz band principal stage winners, Ofcom has confirmed that the auction has moved into a period of negotiation. Bidders have the opportunity to negotiate the frequency positions among themselves in order to facilitate trades to join together the frequencies they have secured with spectrum they already hold in the wider 3.4-3.8 GHz band.

The first phase of this negotiation period runs until 16 April 2021. If a second phase is required, this is expected to take place between 19 and 23 April 2021.

Full details of the various stages of the auction can be found here.

Ofcom publishes the outcome of its Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review

After launching its consultation in January 2020, Ofcom has published a statement ‘Promoting investment and competition in fibre networks – Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26‘ in which it identifies BT as having market power in the provision of physical telecoms infrastructure, and wholesale markets underpinning broadband and leased line services (except in Central London). New regulations apply to BT from April 2021 until March 2026.  (more…)

Ofcom Spectrum auction – principal stage results published

Ofcom has announced the outcome of the first round of the auction which has raised £1,356,400,000 for the Treasury.

Results:

  • EE Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000; 20 MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £4,000,000; and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.
  • Hutchison 3G UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000.
  • Vodafone Limited has won 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £176,400,000.
  • Telefónica UK Limited has won 2×10 MHz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band for £280,000,000, and 40 MHz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168,000,000.

(more…)

Ofcom spectrum auction starts today

After a pause in the process, bidding in the principal stage begins today. The UK’s four main mobile networks – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – will bid for spectrum in two different frequency bands:

  • The 700 MHz band: 80 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band is being released. These airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage – including in the countryside.
  • The 3.6-3.8 GHz band: 120 MHz of spectrum in 3.6-3.8 GHz band is being released. These airwaves are part of the primary band for 5G and capable of boosting mobile data capacity, carrying lots of data-hungry connections.

(more…)