UK GSM & UMTS News
France Telecom has purchased Orange from Vodafone. See the Orange website for details.
Bidding in the UK Government auction of 5 UMTS licences for the UK finished in April.
In the auction, the one largest licence, called licence 'A', reserved for a new operator, was for 35MHz of spectrum, then there was one for 30 MHz (licence 'B'), and three further licences of 25 MHz bandwidth each (licences 'C', 'D' and 'E'). Applications to bid in the auction were due by January 12th 2000, accompanied by a £50m deposit. Qualification for the bidding process was announced on February 14th. All thirteen applicants qualified for the auction. The bidding began on March 6th and ended on April 27th at the 150th round of bidding, when ntl Mobile withdrew from the auction.
The five winners were as follows:
Licence A: TIW UMTS (U.K.), the owner of UK Tetra operator
Dolphin, who bid: £4,384,700,000
Eight other companies took part in the auction but later withdrew:
3G (U.K.) Ltd (a subsidiary of Irish Eircom).
For further details, visit the official website at www.spectrumauctions.gov.uk.
The UMTS frequency allocations are as follows (to be confirmed):
1900 - 1900.3 MHz - Guard band
1900.3 - 1905.2 MHz (4.9 MHz bandwidth) - Unmatched
spectrum - licence D - One2One
1919.9 - 1920.3 MHz - Guard band
1920.3 - 1934.9 MHz (14.6 MHz bandwidth) - Matched
spectrum (mobile transmit) - licence A - TIW
2110 - 2110.3 MHz - Guard band
2110.3 - 2124.9 MHz (14.6 MHz bandwidth) -
Matched spectrum (base station transmit) - licence A - TIW
2169.7 - 2160 MHz - Guard band
Vodafone have reportedly contracted Ericsson to provide their initial UMTS network rollout.
BT Cellnet have reportedly contracted Nortel Networks
to provide their initial UMTS network rollout.
Vodafone acquires Mannesmann - and what next for
Orange? The Vodafone bid for Mannesmann of Germany was agreed by the Mannesmann
board, paving the way for the world's largest ever merger, and the creation
of an European mobile 'superpower'. This deal now puts a question mark
over the future ownership of Orange, which was acquired by Mannesmann in
late 1999. Vodafone will have to de-merge Orange as a condition of the
takeover of Mannesmann, as Vodafone cannot have an interest in more than
one mobile operator in the UK. Update: as at May 28th 2000, there
are rumours that France Telecom may make an offer to buy Orange from Vodafone.
The Q1 2000 subscription
data is here (follow the link to the seperate page).
BT Cellnet and Vodafone both lauched WAP ("Wireless
Application Protocol") services in the latter half of January 2000.
These allow subscribers with special handsets to view the internet, with
a text-based 'microbrowser'. Orange launched their WAP service in November
1999 but only for subscribers to access Orange-related websites, their
service also now, since January, allows users to view external sites. Visit
the official Vodafone, BT Cellnet and Orange websites for further details.
Access is still however at the limited dial-up data rate allowed by GSM.
Cellnet is planning to launch GPRS, which will allow higher speed,
always on, internet access, over their GSM network during Summer 2000 -
to corporate customers in selected areas, starting 26th June 2000.
plan to launch a similar product in Autumn 2000. BT Cellnet have
also launched in January, Infotouch: which allows subscribers
without WAP phones to receive current information (such as news, weather,
sport) via the SMS function on their handset; and MMail, which enables
subscribers without WAP phones to send and receive email using their handset.
The convergence of the internet and the mobile phone has begun...
Oftel has available a new survey of GSM network performance of the four different operators in the UK. For 2 minute calls connected and completed nationally, Orange was the leader with 97.7% success rate, followed by BT Cellnet (96.5%), Vodafone (96.4%) and one2one (95.6%). These are the headline figures but for all the details, and a region-by-region breakdown, check the survey results on the Oftel website.