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The year in networks: Fibre and 4G rollouts boost UK’s standing, but more to come

28 Dec 2012
Fibre broadband strands

It's been quite a year in the telecoms space, as the UK battles to become a shining light for high-speed services in both the fixed and mobile markets.

It was the mobile world that saw the most interesting developments with the endless in-fighting and delays that have dogged 4G for years finally put to one side. The newly-named EE became the first mobile operator to roll out services to 10 UK cities.

This came after Ofcom made the bold decision to allow the operator to refarm its existing 2G and 3G spectrum in the 1800MHz band for 4G, a move intended to kickstart the industry as the UK continued to slip behind economic rivals such as Germany and US.

Rivals Vodafone and O2 fumed at the decision, calling it "shocking" and showing "a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy".

However, a meeting brokered by newly installed secretary of state for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Maria Miller, between operators and Ofcom helped knock some sense into those involved, partly by bringing forward the auctions for new spectrum.

This gave EE the green light to launch 4G and it set about the task with gusto, having services live in several major cities by the end of October. V3 tested out the service in central London on an iPhone 5 and saw impressive speeds of over 20Mbit/s.

While this was all good news and a welcome boost to the UK's mobile market, anyone expecting an end to the in-fighting at this moment was sorely mistaken.

Vodafone immediately went on the offensive, touting its network over EE by claiming it will have far better in-building coverage when its own 4G services launch.

Meanwhile, EE's 4G offerings has been dogged by some complaints around pricing and data allowance limits as interest in the service appears to be cautious at first.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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