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Friday, August 24, 2012

The Hare and the Tortoise: the race for 4G/LTE in the UK

Robin Kent writes:

With this week’s announcement that Everything Everywhere has been given the green light to launch the UK’s first 4G service, competing operators such as Vodafone and O2 are getting hot under the collar. With every day that goes by, these operators lose vital competitiveness as the market creeps away them towards Orange and T-Mobile. This is a real life ‘hare and tortoise’ scenario.

However, rival operators should take solace from the fact that Everything Everywhere will not be able to launch 4G on handsets, as the handsets are not ready yet. This limits the service it can provide its users. That is, unless the iPhone 5 is 4G compatible upon its release, a day after Everything Everywhere can launch the first 4G service in the UK. Nevertheless, the operator will probably only be able to provide 4G in the form of a dongle until the rest of the industry catches up with the latest developments. First when the gun goes off, but by no means the overall winner.

The real opportunity for LTE is that together with new tools such as deep packet inspection (DPI), operators will be able to move away from the ‘all you can eat’ data plans towards more flexible services and sophisticated pricing plans which will benefit the operator and the user.

Everything Everywhere is committed now and under pressure to deliver. The public may be expecting it to be the first to feed their appetite for 4G handsets so will they be happy with data dongles instead?  But for the remaining operators the delayed 4G auction gives time to plan and strategise. Slow and steady may just win the race.

Robin Kent is Director of European Operations at Adax Europe. Adax has over 25 years’ experience in distributed signalling solutions, offering products that are designed to meet today’s challenges of I/O scalability, cost effectiveness and high availability. Its customers include some of the world’s premier telecom suppliers, value added service providers and system integrators.

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Author: The Fonecast
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