24/06/2011

Ofcom fines Satellite Entertainment Ltd

Ofcom, the media regulator, fined Satellite Entertainment Ltd (SEL) who run Essex Babes, Northern Birds and Live XXX Babes £90,000.00 for failing to provide recordings of what was transmitted on 9 occasions. The fine is payable to HM Paymaster General.

SEL also lost editorial control of what they broadcast for 6 weeks by allowing another company to transmit using its license.

It seems SEL refused to provide recordings and frustrate Ofcom's regulatory process which Ofcom found unacceptable. SEL were fined as a breach of condition 11 of their license.

The full Adjucations may be seen here.

23/06/2011

O2 prepares for Glastonbury

O2 (the subsidiary of Telfonica) has been working in the background for the Glas
tonbury Festival that opened yesterday, by installing 6 cell sites around the fe
stival site.
By the time the festival closes, O2 will have spent 200 days with a team of 20 people making sure everything has been set-up and kept working smoothly so that the 150,000 or so revellers can keep calling or textting each other.

O2 expect that festival goers will talk for over 3.4m minutes and use up 1088GB of data (that's over 1TB) which is a lot of traffic for a 5 days event. O2 will also be monitoring the network and ensuring it will be tuned for peak periods such as when a band finishes when everybody uses their phone to find out where their frends are.

Orange are also associated with the festival and are known to add extra cell sites to increase coverage, but this year they are offering an app (Apple, Android and Nokia) that allows punters to see who's playing on what stages and the acts that follow. They will also be providing a charging station suitable for hundreds of people to simultaneously get a boost, however this year they are also trailling t-shirts that have a piezo-electric film that converts audio into electricity and each shirt should be able to charge two phones over the 5 days.

Glastonbury is now really becoming a 'techno' festival, maybe next year robots will be seen in the crowds.

20/06/2011

Ofcom allows Spectrum Trading for 2G and 3G spectrum

Ofcom today published a statement that will mean from the 4th July 2011 2G and 3G licensees will be able to fully or part trade spectrum in the 900MHz, 1800MHz (2G) and 2.1GHz/2100MHz (3G) bands.

This may allay some issues arising from the 800MHz / 2.6GHz forthcoming auctions.

UK Broadband to offer LTE/4G services as early as 2012

UK Broadband (a subsiduary of Hong Kong based PCCW who are owned by the same people that run Hutchison Wampoa who own 3 in the UK) have announced that they will be rolling out an LTE (Long Term Evolution) or 4G network this year and it will be ready for use by next year.

UK Broadband recently acquired Pipex Wireless so now they own a large chunk of spectrum in the 3.5 and 3.6GHz bands. Initially, both UK Broadband and Pipex Wireles, were offering WiMAX based networks but the current trend is for LTE as mobile networks will support this as their 4G systems (effectively killing off WiMAX, at least in Europe).

The aim is to offer MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) services i.e. wholesale mobile services to other operators such as Virgin Mobile (who is already an MVNO of T-Mobile). LTE will support both voice and data, though it's the high speed data services that will be attractive to operators especially if they can off-load data from the existing 3G networks which are suffering capacity issues.

It's not all going to be plain sailing as mobile phones only look in certain bands (currently 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz for EU GSM/3G) though 850 / 900 MHz is used in the Americas, so UK Broadband or PCCW will have to persuade handset manufacturers to support the 3.5/3.6GHz bands which is likely to be difficult, though specific LTE data equipment could be another option (as in a 4G dongle).

Ofcom were meant to be auctioning the 800MHz analogue TV spectrum next year and the 2.6GHz IMT-2000 reserved band, both being suitable for LTE services, unfortunately BT and O2/Telefonica have now challenged Ofcom's decision to cap the sub 1GHz spectrum available to any network and this may cause further delays in both the auction and actual availability of the spectrum which was neant to be made available after the 2012 London Olympics.

BT Whitespace spectrum trials "encouraging"

Spectrum is a valuable commodity and in the UK it's pretty well all allocated (well there are certain bands that are hopefully going to be auctioned soon). It's either been taken up by (mainly) the MOD, commercial TV/radio, mobile and even some space for public use like the 2.4GHz band which is used by WiFi.

The lower the frequency of the radio wave, the better propogation characteristics it has (i.e. it travels further in air and penetrates buildings well) so even though higher frequencies can carry more data, it can be hard to get the signal to users without building very dense radio networks so the signals don't have to travel very far.

Current analogue TV uses the 800MHz band which obviously has very good propogation characteristics as pretty well anyone in the UK can receive an analogue TV signal. During 2012 all analogue transmitters will be turned off and everything migrated to digital.

Therefore there's a lot of interest in using these lower frequency bands for wireless broadband for remote areas as a single big transmitter can be dumped into the middle of the remote area and it connected back to civilisation, but everyone in the area will be able to get a signal from it - i.e. they'll be able to get a broadband connection.

This is a very attractive proposition, except for the fact that frequencies in the range of 400 - 800MHz are currently being used or have planned use which slightly scuppers its use for broadband.

BT are trialing a system known as white space transmission and it's really quite clever. The transmitting and receiving systems listen to the relevant bands that they want to use and only pick sub-bands that aren't already being used. Since modern radio equipment can be very selective and use specific frequencies, there's actually a lot of white space spectrum around (older radio systems were noisy and though bands were allocated, there are always gap-bands in between so that the real radio bands wouldn't "bleed" into each other causing interference - those gap bands contain valauable - now usable - spectrum). Also not all areas use all the sub-bands. The trials are being conducted on the (very) remote Scottish Island of Bute, so even if BT get things wrong, there's not going to be a lot of people to upset, but the trials are going well and BT is going extend to coverage to another 12 users July.

If the trials are successful this could offer a glimmer of hope in getting broadband to rural communities who are not going to be covered by BT or other operators fibre (or even 3G) roll-outs.

19/06/2011

The Inspire Conference, but was it inspiring?

It seems everyone who organises anything these days must also put on the obligatory conference which is "the" conference to go to.

On June 7th and 8th at the organisers of Launch48 put on the Inspire Conference at UCL's Senate House in the centre of London. Even if the conference failed, Senate House is one of the most inspiring buildings in London, it doesn't quite fit, looking more like something out of a US skyline.

The conference was located on the ground floor with the exhibition in the main hall and coffee/lunch opposite with WiFi (supplied by UCL) present everywhere (the WiFi required a login, but remained available even at peak usage with no drop-outs or reduced bandwidth - other venues should take note).

If there's any comparison, the organisers probably would like to compare "Inspire" with TED and if it continues it may well develop into something similar, though there a lot of very good talks, they weren't particularly inspiring (for example Nick Halstead of Datasift/Tweetmeme gave a very impressive talk on Big Data - but was it inspiring?).

Some products that people talked about are inspiring (i.e. Angry Birds), but the actual talk (or interview with Peter Vesterbacka of Rovio) again wasn't.

Rory Sutherland of Ogilvy was probably the exception and gave a brilliant talk which was also inspiring.

It was a good idea to change the exhibitors for each day (well most of them) and the stands were quite busy.