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European Commission to Open 3G Spectrum to 4G Networks

November 6, 2012 - Written By Tom Dawson

4G has been in the states for quite a while now and has become so ingrained into the industry that the lack of it inside the new Nexus 4 has some people mighty upset and have even given up on buying the device. In Europe however, things are a little different and 4G LTE is only available in a small number of countries and has only just launched in the UK. I’m currently in the UK and while the new network of EE claim their network is 5 times faster than 3G, it’s really not. That number is based around the average of 3G being 1.5mbps whereas I normally see around 4 or 5mbps and that suits me fine. The reason I’m not jumping to LTE right now is that the spectrum they’re using doesn’t penetrate buildings all that well and you know what? I’m not standing out in the cold to watch their YouTube video.

The European Commission however, have made a pretty big decision that should help the state of 4G wireless in the EU quite a bit. The Commission have made the decision that 3G spectrum can now be used for 4G networks. Specifically, the following 3G bands can now be used for 4G, if the operators so choose:  1920-1980 MHz and 2110-2170 MHz. This is similar to the decision made way back in 1998 enabling carriers to roll out 3G on the “terrestrial 2 Ghz band”, it’s this sort of decision that makes it easy for me, as a Brit, to get 3G wherever I go on holiday in Europe. This year I went to Portugal – I had good 3G, last year was Spain – so on and so forth.

When it comes to 4G however, there’s little chance that if you were to take your EE phone to a country that has 4G you can get online using it. With this new decision however, it should ensure a build out across Europe that is interoperable with each other, making it a lot easier for the big companies like Vodafone and Telefonica to build out their networks. This makes a whole lot of sense and should ensure that in the coming years, our 4G LTE will best the LTE found in the States.