Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


Tag: o2

UK’s 4G – Common-sense or Cover-up?

Posted by Andrew at 1:18 PM on September 11, 2012

Ofcom LogoThe launch of 4G services in the UK by Everything Everywhere today has been heralded by the majority of the tech blogs and news sites as a long-overdue success. But is this a victory for common-sense or has Ofcom simply managed to cover-up its own incompetence? (For those outside the UK, Ofcom is the regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.)

Here’s part of article from GNC that I wrote in October of last year.
Ofcom, the UK’s regulator for the telecommunications industry, issued an update on its plans for the auctioning off of the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum bands. These are the frequencies that will be used for the delivery of 4G services.

There has already been one consultation on the auction of the frequencies but based on the responses received, Ofcom has decided to carry out an additional second consultation at the end of 2011 which will run for around 8 weeks. The outcome of the consultation and auction proposals will be published in the summer of 2012, with a delayed frequency auction expected in Q4 2012. More likely Q1 2013, based on their track record.”

So how is it possible that Everything Everywhere, or EE, as it is going to be called, can a launch a 4G service when the frequency auction hasn’t even begun?

The answer is that Orange and T-Mobile, the partners in EE, put a proposal to Ofcom that they should be allowed to use one of their existing frequencies (1800 MHz) to launch 4G services in the UK without waiting for the auction. Ofcom thought this was a brilliant idea and gave the go-ahead. As you can imagine, some of the other players in the UK’s telecoms market (Three, Vodafone, O2) were less than thrilled at Ofcom handing EE a 4G monopoly for at least six months. Imagine how tempting it would be to switch networks if a 4G iPhone 5 was available from EE and only EE.

Depending on your point of view, the launch of 4G in the UK is either a victory for a common-sense approach to available spectrum or else it’s a monumental cover-up over the way Ofcom has failed to manage the transition to 4G.

I’m in the latter camp and I won’t be buying a 4G device or service from EE.

 

O2 Offers 12 Month Smartphone Lease

Posted by Andrew at 6:25 PM on December 12, 2011

O2 LogoIn a change to the mobile phone contract status quo, UK mobile telco O2 has announced a 12 month smartphone leasing service. For £55 per month, you get a 16 GB smartphone, 750 minutes, unlimited text, a paltry 500 MB of data and insurance. Allegedly unique in the UK market, both consumers and business will be able to take advantage of O2 Lease.

If you are wondering what the difference is between a 12 month lease and 12 month contract, it’s simply that the smartphone doesn’t belong to you and must be returned in reasonable condition at the end of the lease. That’s why insurance is included in the cost of the lease so that the smartphone can be replaced in the event of damage or loss.

O2 extols the benefits of a 12 month lease, tying it into the upgrade cycles of the smartphone models and giving you the latest model without a long contract. The choice of smartphone models isn’t mentioned but O2 offers all the premium smartphones – Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Nokia Lumia 800 and Blackberry Torch. 32GB models cost an extra £10 per month. Update – O2 Lease is specifically mentioned against the iPhone 4S here.

If you really want the latest phone and you’re a big talker or texter, this scheme might be worth considering but the tiny data allowance really makes it all a bit of a farce. My monthly data usage is between 600-800 MB and I don’t think that I’m a particularly heavy user. Yes, I might download the odd podcast but it’s mostly email, web browsing, Twitter and RSS feeds.

Personally, I tend to buy my smartphones SIM-free as there are far better tariffs out there and you can easily sell the smartphone after 12 months to part-fund your next purchase. Do the maths for yourself and see what works for you.

The full press release is here.

O2 Prepares for the Royal Wedding

Posted by Andrew at 12:55 PM on April 27, 2011

As the world is gripped by Royal Wedding fever (yawn), mobile phone operator O2 have blogged about their preparations from the big day. As you might expect, there will be a few more mobile phones, texts and picture messages sent from heart of London than you’d get on an average Friday in April but what might surprise you is how much more O2 is predicting.

O2 reckon that there will be an additional 300,000 customers in the London area, each making at least one phone call, receiving four texts / picture messages and sending or receiving one email. The usage sounds a little low to me but they’re the experts. Astonishingly, they expect 327 million pictures will be taken on a mobile phone. That’s a lot.

To cope with the extra traffic, there will additional cells around the wedding hotspots such as Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the procession route, St James’ Park and Hyde Park, bringing the total number of cells to 283. The London network has been recently upgraded as well, so it’s going to hold up under the extra traffic – fingers crossed.

They’re also expecting people outside of Westminster Abbey to stream the wedding ceremony itself from the BBC’s iPlayer and similar services. That’ll put some load onto the 3G network, nevermind the BBC’s servers.

And to ensure that network maintenance doesn’t have any unintended consequences, O2 has locked the phone network down between the day before and the day after the event and only emergency repairs allowed. Very reassuring for the wedding watchers.

I’m sure other mobile phone providers will be doing similar things but it’s interesting to see a little of what goes on behind the scenes.

O2 Launches Live Network Status

Posted by Andrew at 7:45 AM on November 22, 2010

O2 in the UK has a launched a web-based live mobile network status checker. It allows you to check the status of its mobile network in your area by simply putting in the post code.  The page will then tell you what’s going on in the network nearby and if it’s likely to affect your calls.

Here are two different results for postcodes near me right now.  

At the same time, O2 has also upgraded their network coverage map.  It’s now interactive with full street and satellite views from Bing.  It’s also pretty honest – for my post code it says that mobile broadband won’t be good and my experience would bear that out.

As an O2 customer, both of these will be handy tools but the live network status checker will be particularly useful for seeing if there’s a known problem before I pick up the phone to the call centre.

Windows Phone 7 in the UK

Posted by Andrew at 6:00 AM on October 12, 2010

Windows Phone 7Windows Phone 7 handsets are going to be hitting Europe on 21st October, a full two weeks ahead of the USA, who won’t get the new phones until 8th November.  With a potential 10 phones on offer, it will be interesting to see which ones are offered at launch.  So if you want to get one up on our US cousins, here’s a run down of which phones and which carriers will be selling Microsoft’s latest.

HTC HD7O2
O2 have announced that they’ll be launching the HTC HD7, allegedly the handset with the biggest screen at 4.3″ and the most memory at 16GB.  5MP camera with HD video recording, Wi-Fi and a 1GHz processor, which is all pretty standard. O2 will be offering the phone on contract and on Pay-and-Go for £379.

Orange
Orange will be selling the two phones, the HTC Mozart and the Samsung Omnia 7.  So far they’re the only carrier to announce multiple handsets.  The Samsung’s specs are given below under Three.  The Mozart is exclusive to Orange at launch and has a 3.7” WVGA Super LCD Display, 8 MP camera, Dolby sound and a  1GHz processor. 

The Mozart will be free on a £35 per month, 24 month contract, whereas the Omnia 7 will be free on £40 per month, 24 month contract.

T-Mobile
Nothing has been announced yet.  Given their recent merger with Orange, it’s possible that the phones will only come through Orange.

Samsung Omnia 7Three
Three is going to be offering the Samsung Omnia 7 with pre-orders taken from Tuesday 12th October.  The Omnia 7 comes with a 4″ Super AMOLED screen, 5 MP camera with 720P HD video recording, upto 8GB RAM, 11n WiFi and the obligatory 1GHz processor.  Available free on contract from £35 per month.

Vodafone
Vodafone hasn’t announced anything yet formally but their press media centre is currently down.  Informally, it’s believed to be the HTC Trophy 7 and the LG Optimus 7.

All the carriers appear to be putting extra software on the phones tailored to offers and promotions, e.g. Orange have their regular 2-for-1 cinema promotion and there’s going be a film application tied in with that.

It currently looks like five out of the ten announced phones will be coming to the UK for the launch in October.  That’s not a bad selection to choose from and it will be interesting to see what the hands-on reviews reveal.  Only a few weeks to go…