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How 4G is making MHz interesting

Posted by Darren Willsher on 10th July 2013

If you’ve been in London recently then you may have spotted some adverts on the tube about the 4G mobile network and the digital switchover. Yesterday Ofcom also released a statement announcing that it has decided to allow mobile phone operators to use their existing 2G and 3G radio spectrum for superfast 4G mobile broadband in the future.

This is all on top of a stack of media attention on the 4G network and the race between the different UK operators to get their networks live.

What makes this particularly interesting is how it’s taken a very technical subject and dragged it into the mainstream public eye. Normally if you started talking about the challenges of 800MHz versus 2100 and the propagation characteristics of either, well you’ve probably already gone cross eyed.

However this is now something people are paying more attention to. I’m not suggesting your gran has suddenly become an expert on mobile network optimisation, but those with a casual interest in tech are now reading about the 4G auction and the different frequency bands and starting to appreciate the differences. So while O2’s 800MHz spectrum does offer fantastic coverage, it won’t be able to deliver the same speeds as the 1800MHz used elsewhere. And at the same time those with 1800MHz will be struggling with coverage in remote areas and through big buildings.

And don’t even start on using 4G in different countries and the different devices…

This is excellent news for tech PR types and those working in the more niche areas of the network.

A common complaint of the techy PR is how so much coverage gets dedicated to something like the iWatch, which might not even exist as my colleague Ben has ranted superbly about, whereas some genuinely brilliant innovation gets ignored.

While I’ve been interested for some time now in how the networks work and the engineering challenges involved, it’s hardly everyone’s cup of tea. Now, thanks to 4G, people are much more interested in small cells, mobile spectrum and everything in-between. Which is very good news indeed for those doing clever things with the network.

Photo credit: topgold

Darren Willsher

Darren has been with Wildfire for six years and is one of the driving forces behind the agency’s telecoms and networking portfolio, with experience working on a range of international, multi-channel accounts including CSR, Picochip (now Mindspeed), Real Wireless, The Small Cell Forum, Samsung and Allied Telesis.