01/04/2010

Port your Mobile number in a day

Ofcom is holding a short consultation on allowing consumers to port their number to a new mobile network with 1 working day.

Ofcom put forward four options to the mobile network operators (MNOs), which were: -

* Option A: recipient-led process with porting completed within two hours
* Option B: donor-led process with porting completed within two hours
* Option C: recipient-led process with porting completed the next working day
* Option D: donor-led process with porting completed the next working day

Ofcom wanted to have porting occur within 2 hours, but lost a legal battle from the MNOs and so Ofcom has now agreed on Option D which is the same process that takes place now (using a donor PAC code) but the time has been reduced from 2 working days to 1 working day. The PAC code must be supplied in 2 hours or less by phone or SMS.

A 2 hour port could have been achievable, but this would have meant holding a central database containing numbers and which network they belong. This would have meant expense and it also didn't suit the MNOs (who use HLR records to say the number is ported and point to the new network).

The consultation closes on 13/05/10

Ofcom proposes cuts to mobile termination rates

Ofcom is holding a Consultation on the wholesale mobile termination rates.

The current price controls end on 31st of March 2011 and Ofcom is proposing the following rates: -


2010/11 4.3 4.6
2011/12 2.5 2.5
2012/13 1.5 1.5
2013/14 0.9 0.9

Column one represents Vodafone O2/Orange/T-Mobile and column two represents H3G.

Other mobile network pricing is set on the basis of being fair and reasonable (i.e. this applies to Truphone, UK01 and other new entrants).

The mobile networks have seen the mobile termination rates slashed in recent years which is good news for consumers.

However this still doesn't address the mobile network operators setting retail rates that are unduly high (i.e. some of the new entrants may have a termination rate set by Ofcom of say 2.5p per minute, but the retail rate charged by a MNO is above 40p which prices the new entrant out the market).

The consultation closes on 23/06/10

Who wants to broadcast at the London Olympics

Ofcom is published a document on broadcasting at the London Olympics in 2012 and is inviting interested parties to apply.

It is expected that applicants will want short-term licenses for the duration of the London Olympics and Paralympics Games, which could be used for sports coverage in various languages etc.
A 'preliminary expression of interest' should include the following information:

* the name of your organisation
* the type of service(s) you would like to provide (sports coverage / cultural programming / tourist information / foreign language etc.)
* the number of programme services you would like to provide and the total data capacity you expect to use in order to provide these
* the location of the service(s) you would like to operate (i.e. the geographical area you wish to cover)
* the type of digital technology you would propose to use (DAB etc)
* the number and approximate locations of transmitters you expect would be required to deliver * the proposed service multiplex
* the duration that such a service or services would operate for
* a brief outline of your proposed business model
* your contact details

As the analogue bands are pretty much already in use (there is some medium wave spectrum available) it looks like licensees will need to be on a digital mutliplex so pretty well rules out your local pirate radio station then.

Applicants can apply to Radio2012

30/03/2010

Ubiquisys makes a femto cell for less than $100

Ubiquisys have produced their "Femto-Engine" which has all the software needed for a femto cell and they also supply blueprints for any additional hardware that's required so original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have all the information required to produce a working cell.

$100 has been a key price as this should enable mobile network operators (MNO) to bundle the femto cells for free with their service. Currently in the UK Vodafone sell their SureSignal femto cell for £50 (if the customer has a certain price plan for their mobile). In the US AT&T charge $150 for their microcell product.

There is a volume requirement to hit the sub $100 price, an OEM would need to order 100,000 in one go. Any MNO with any volume should be able to shift that kind of number easily, especially as it's highly beneficial to them as femto cells mean loading on their traditional networks is reduced.

These femto cells are only 3G units as it's much more difficult to produce 2G femto cells (and they require frequency planning), but it's the 3G traffic (i.e. mainly data) that is a real problem for the MNOs, so femto cells in the long term and as LTE comes into play are a no brainer.

29/03/2010

Ofcom consult on spectrum fees

Ofcom is holding a consultation on the way it charges for spectrum (not the old Sinclair computer, but the radio spectrum).

The consultation "SRSP: The revised Framework for Spectrum Pricing" takes not only the management costs into account but also the value of the spectrum to the licensee so Ofcom may charge a premium for certain licenses.

In the UK (as part of the EU) spectrum is a scarcity and therefore a valuable commodity (radio doesn't abide by national boundaries) and spectrum shortages will be likely. Ofcom has to maximise the use of radio spectrum and to this end has introduced 'administered incentive pricing' (AIP) which is where the premium comes in.

Stakeholders are requested to respond by 21/06/2010.

The Consultation is on Ofcom's site

T-Morange to build new network?

The new company that is the merged T-Mobile and Orange is thinking about building a brand new network in the UK. This will use equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei and will support the frequency range from 900MHz to 2.6GHz (2600MHz).

This will allow the company to take advantage of new or refarmed spectrum that may become available in 2012, it will also allow rapid roll-out of new services based on GSM, UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G).

Neither T-Mobile nor Orange have any spectrum in 900MHz, but they're lobbying Ofcom that Vodafone and O2 should give up some of their spectrum when GSM spectrum can be used for 3G services. Currently the combined spectrum that T-Mobile and Orange own exceeds the license limitations for any single operator.

Ofcom have not yet auctioned 2.6GHz which initially was reserved for IMT-2000 use (the technical name for 3G) and due to various legal issues brought against Ofcom by the mobile operators wont be available now until at least 2012. There's likely to be a lot of interest in this band as it offers the potential high data rates (there's 190MHz of spectrum available). It's likely BT will bid for it as they can use it for WiMAX or other wireless broadband technology in rural areas and 3G services in urban areas as they've wanted to offer business mobile services for a while.