Ofcom Lets Freedom4 WiMax Go Mobile

MobilityNetworks

Freedom4 has been granted a licence variation by Ofcom to offer mobile wireless broadband services using WiMax on its nationwide 3.6GHz spectrum

Ofcom has given the green light to Freedom4 to expand its mobile broadband offerings, after the UK communications regulator issued it a license variation to deploy mobile WiMax services using its nationwide 3.6GHz spectrum.

Freedom4 was formerly know as Pipex Wireless, and is now a joint investment between communications provider Daisy Group plc (formerly Freedom4 Group plc and Pipex Communications plc) and Intel Capital.

It is is currently one of only two companies with a WiMax license in the UK (the other is UK Broadband, a wholly owned subsidiary of PCCW – Pacific Century CyberWorks).

Freedom4 owns the largest contiguous block of 4G compatible spectrum currently issued in the UK, together with national spectrum at both 4GHz and 28GHz ideal for delivering wireless backhaul.

The new licence is in addition to the fixed services it currently offers. Freedom4 launched a WiMax service in Milton Keynes back in December 2007. It also has a network in Stratford upon Avon. Its WiMax coverage in the UK is supplemented by over 4,000 Wi-Fi hotspots through Freedom4 WiFi.

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“The licence was about two things,” said Graham Currier, Chief Operating Officer at Freedom4. “The first was the licence variation, and the second is a good boost in power for the base stations, which means the range increases.”

Currier told eWEEK Europe that getting the licence variation is a lengthy process, and now Freedom4 has a ‘far amount of work to upgrade our networks’.

“We have brought ourselves ultimate flexibility,” said Currier, who reiterated the argument that the GSM networks are simply not designed to cope with data.

“Currently the GSM networks cannot cope (with the demand for mobile broadband),” he said. “You cannot expect voice networks to suddenly triple their capacity, and what happens when it fills up is that my voice call gets dropped.”

“GSM is a fabulous protocol that gives very good voice quality, but data is a whole different ball game,” he added. “If you want broadband data, you need a broadband data network, its not rocket science. But people only find out when the network gets crowded and their calls get dropped.”

“We have been working on the spectrum,” he said. “But now it is done, it is done, and we now have the tools for the future, which is a good thing for a company to be able to say.”

Author: Tom Jowitt
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