Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Industry cautious over U.K. 4G auctions

ZDNet UK News writes that U.K. "spectrum auctions for so-called 4G telecommunications will not raise anywhere near the amount of money that the Treasury made from 3G in 2000," according to a variety of industry players.

Commenting on past industry overspending for spectrum, Dean Bubley at Disruptive Analysis said, "People are now a lot more intelligent about the timing of when they can launch. There was an assumption that 3G would have immediate returns… operators getting licences this time will have to build a five-year delay into when they can use the network properly."

Bubley added, "People know how long it takes to get networks rolled out and standards nailed down."

The article discusses the efforts of six of the world’s top operators (including Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile), which "formed a consortium to tackle such issues, dubbed the Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) Forum." The Forum is seeking to "provide a set of recommendations for the creation of networks suitable for the competitive delivery of mobile broadband services and cost-efficient eventual replacement of existing networks."

Bubley said, "4G will inevitably be used as a marketing slogan… You will see, in the same way you had GPRS being ‘2 point 5 G’, a lot of 3 point something Gs. Before [developing 4G], the operators need to step back and work on the network. We’re going to get to [super-3G technologies] HSDPA and HSUPA and will have to stop to allow the plumbing of the network to catch up".

Bubley also mentioned that progress on 4G "depends on who’s got patents on what technology", suggesting that "European manufacturers do not want to be beholden to Qualcomm."

Ovum analyst John Delaney thought the definition of 4G was "a matter of opinion." He stated that "there was some consensus that 4G would involve WiMax in some way, but it would definitely involve IP."