Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Ofcom Chief Warns About Overloaded Mobile Networks

Speaking at the Royal Welsh Show Ofcom chief Ed Richards warned that UK Mobile networks are reaching full capacity. He said that those in rural Wales are likely to suffer if the demand for mobile broadband and internet enabled smart phones continues to rise.

The rise in mobile broadband has overtaken all estimates in the years since it was introduced and now the popularity of smart phones is likely to add to the problems of the already oversubscribed networks. Only a small part of the digital spectrum is currently allocated to mobile broadband. This has left networks struggling to provide the bandwidth to support their customers needs.

“UK users are now seeing the beginnings of a capacity pinch, as data-enabled smartphones and dongles chew through media-rich websites and process more background traffic. But while demand is booming – mobile data usage has grown by more than 1,800% in the UK in the past two years – the frequencies, or spectrum, upon which it and so many other similar services are carried have not.
The laws of physics prevent us from inventing or acquiring new spectrum, but we can release spectrum used for other services.”

The statement by Richards follows the news that the Government's Digital Britain plan has been delayed by three years. The original plan was to provide "broadband for all" by 2012 but the data has been revised following cuts in funding. Richards feels that a larger section of the spectrum needs to be allocated to broadband.

“The switch to all-digital television, completed first here in Wales in March, has freed up some hugely important spectrum that could be used to increase the availability of very fast mobile broadband throughout Wales,” he said. I am absolutely clear that we need to get on and release this, something Ofcom has tried to do in the teeth of fierce resistance from existing mobile operators.

For consumers everywhere, the risk is of a slowing of innovation, and a possible reversal of the downward price pressure. And for users in rural Wales it could mean fewer options for solving their connectivity problems.”

Thursday, 1 July 2010

EU Caps Mobile Data Roaming Rates

handy little iPhoneImage by Leeks via Flickr

It's a common story: holidaymaker uses the internet on their mobile phone whilst abroad then discovers that they have been charged hundreds of pounds for downloading too much data. Every year it seems that hundreds of travelers are caught out and end up paying huge amounts for what they thought was included in their regular bill. Whilst unlimited* data plans are now the norm most providers charge extra for using mobile internet overseas.

One British student studying abroad in Spain ran up a bill of €9,000 for just one month of data roaming while a German tourist reported being charged €46,000 for downloading a TV programme while holidaying in France. Last year, one Irish holidaymaker ran up a bill of €200 when using his iPhone as a satnav in France. Irishtimes.com

The EU has now stepped in and reportedly 'capped' roaming charges. The truth is slightly more complicated, usage will be limited to €50 after which the customer's connection will be cut off. The connection can be reinstated and higher or lower limits can also be chosen. £40 is still quite a lot to be spending on top of a standard monthly subscription. The maximum charge per mb is also being reduced from €1 to 80 cent.

Hopefully reductions in mobile roaming costs will continue to fall over the forthcoming years. Since 2005 costs have already fallen by 73% as internet use on mobile phones become more widespread. This is great news for consumers who are now used to having internet access at all times via smart phones.

Having an internet enabled phone abroad can be a real help particularly a if it's a smart phone with Applications. Being able to look up car hire information and see your location on Google Maps plus having applications such as the Lonely Planet guide makes things much more straight-forward. It's nice to know that you won't be shocked by an excessive bill on your return home.

3D Games on the HTC Desire

Video by Memmx