UK operators could soon be facilitating payments for physical goods bought by subscribers via carrier billing services. Direct operator billing firm, Mach, has now signed Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, O2 and 3UK up to its Direct Operator Billing platform for digital goods, and said that the use of such a solution to purchase physical goods is on the horizon.
VoIP provider Skype has set up a public wifi network in the UK and Ireland in a bid to diversify its offering. The firm, acquired by Microsoft in 2011, has teamed up with wifi solutions provider Wicoms to roll out a service called Free Skype WiFi in UK high streets. The service enables shopping malls, retailers and other businesses to deliver public internet access to customers free of charge.
The UK businesses of Telefónica and Vodafone have been granted permission by the country’s regulatory authorities to pool the basic parts of their network infrastructure to create one national grid. The grid will support two independent and competing networks delivering mobile coverage and mobile internet services to UK households.
Ten UK cities have been allocated a share of a £114m (US$185 million) government investment to deploy city-wide broadband networks. London will receive the largest share, £25m, while Leeds and Bradford will share £14.4m. Belfast will receive £13.7m and Manchester £12m.
UK regulator Ofcom has said that there is nothing stopping EE’s rivals, such as Vodafone and O2, from putting in an application to alter their 900MHz spectrum licence for LTE usage. A ruling in early 2011 meant that all operators are now free to use their 2G spectrum for 3G services, so extension of that same ruling to encompass 4G would be a small amend.
Chinese equipment vendor Huawei has been identified as the sole supplier of LTE base stations for EE’s network in the UK. The revelation gives context to the firm’s decision to make a £1.3bn R&D investment in the country.
Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei has pledged to invest £1.3bn ($2bn) in the UK, and create 700 more jobs in the country by 2017. The firm, which already employs over 800 people in the UK, said that it will invest £650m in a number of “global centres of technical and financial excellence”, as well as a further £650m in procurement on products and services.
In the removal of 18 letters from its brand name, EE has catapulted the UK’s mobile operator community out of a Prisoner’s Dilemma, and is leading the country’s 4G charge.
Mobile operator Vodafone has lambasted UK regulator Ofcom for its decision to allow Everything Everywhere to launch LTE services at 1800MHz, ahead of the LTE spectrum auction process. In a statement attributed to a Vodafone UK spokesperson the operator dismissed Ofcom’s ruling as “careless” and “bizarre”, adding that the regulator was “all that stands in the way” of a competitive LTE landscape for the UK.
LTE services could be launched in the UK in as early as three weeks, after the country’s regulator has given permission to Everything Everywhere (EE) to use its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver the technology to consumers. Ofcom has ruled that the operator will be allowed to launch LTE services at any point from September 11, 2012.
The UK had passed the major milestone of 2mn active subscriptions to super-fast broadband services by the beginning of June, meaning that 10% of the country’s broadband lines are now capable of delivering speeds over 25 Mbps, according to a new report from UK research firm Point Topic.
The UK government is taking the wrong approach to delivering broadband across the UK, according to a report from a House of Lords committee. The report from the Select Committee on Communications claims that the governments current approach favours speed over coverage, and runs the risk that large parts of the UK run the will be left with inadequate connectivity.
The UK is already seen as Europe’s most complex and fragmented telecoms market and it now looks set to add another unwanted title to its repertoire as that of Europe’s 4G laggard. Europe’s telecoms markets are already dividing into two camps of 4G “haves” and “have-nots” and the UK lies firmly stuck in the latter. The auction proposal set out this week by Ofcom means that the UK will not see 4G LTE services go live until later in 2013 at the earliest, putting UK mobile consumers almost four years behind the world’s leading 4G markets.
UK fixed and mobile operators are divided over whether to sign up to a voluntary code of practice in support of net neutrality. While ten service providers have signed up, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and Virgin Media have so far refused.
I always vowed never to write a piece based on my own personal experience as a telecoms consumer. But I am excusing myself just this once because two things happened to me in the last week that have caused me to question whether operators really are committed to improving the customer experience. And just to be clear, I am adopting a broad definition here of customer experience rather than the narrow big data and analytics part of the equation.
Telecom revenues in the UK market declined in 2011 for the third consecutive year, although mobile retail revenues rose for the first time since 2008. And, while 44 per cent of British adults have now embraced over the top messaging services such as WhatsApp and the messaging applications within social networking services, SMS remains the most popular form of communication for mobile users in the UK. These are some of the headline findings from UK regulator Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2012.
O2’s network outage ran into a second day. Not only demonstrating how seriously a problem like this can damage an operator’s business, it is also making it painfully clear how important it is for an operator to be proactive and communicate effectively with all of its customers in a situation like this. Although O2’s attempt to use Twitter and its website to provide updates on the problem went some way to keeping customers informed, it was not proactive enough to avoid giving customers a poor perception of its service.
Mobile operator O2 UK has revealed that it expects to run out of spectrum on its macro cell layer around 2014. Speaking at a round table briefing hosted by the Small Cells Forum, Telefonica UK’s chief radio engineer Robert Joyce said that, “As we see it, with the increasing demand from tablets and smartphones the macro cell will not be able to cope. We can take the macro cell grid to eight times its current capacity and then we’ll run out of spectrum.”
The UK Government’s decision not to facilitate the deployment of LTE until 2013 at the earliest is “appalling” and has forced the UK to surrender its position as one of the leading communication markets in the world. This is the judgement of a C-level executive from one of the UK network operators, who asked not to be named.
Apple has been fined AU$2 million for deliberately misleading Australian consumers over the 4G status of its third-gen iPad. Action was brought against the tablet manufacturer by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after Australian consumers complained that they had bought the device on the understanding that it was compatible with Telstra’s LTE networks, only later to discover that it was not.