Saturday, 4 February 2012

3G 900mhz

I have been having some signal problems with the Iphone 4S. It is not uncommon for someone to complain about signal issues on the Iphone. Having said that, I was promised by 3UK that they have an excellent coverage throughout the UK. Above all, I should be receiving good signals in my house. I took their word for it and signed up to a SIM only contract which is on a 30 days rolling contract. All I have to do is to pay £15 a month for 300 minutes, unlimited text messages and truly unlimited data per month.

It is a good move by 3UK to introduce unlimited data on such a low price plan and I congratulate them for doing so. With the move, one could see that T-Mobile UK would not want to lose out to 3UK by releasing their full monty price plan. However, you need to look closely to the full monty plans by t-Mobile UK because it is rather more expensive than 3UK. One could argue that T-Mobile UK provide a better customer service to consumers but I beg to differ. I would not use T-Mobile or Orange UK again, if possible as they have messed up my life before. I think I have posted an article about their work previously on my blog so please check it out.

Well, the million dollar question is:"Which network is the best?"

In answering the question, it is simple - It depends on the coverage in your area. 

As for me, Vodafone has patchy signal quality around my area of work and in my home; both T-Mobile UK and Orange UK (so called "Everything Everywhere") have excellent 3G coverage around my area of work and home; and last but not least, O2 UK. O2 UK used to have very poor signal coverage around my area of work and home until recently.

One would ask: What is O2 UK's secret ingredient? 3G 900mhz. As you know, most modern mobile phone these days are equipped with quadband GSM, i.e. 900mhz,1800mhz,1900mhz and 850mhz. Apart from that, most 3G enabled phones will run on either 3G 900mhz or 3G 2100mhz. A good example will be 3UK, Vodafone UK, O2 UK, T-Mobile UK and Orange UK where all of them run on the 3G 2100mhz frequency. However, you need to understand that there are advantages and disadvantages of running on the 2100mhz frequency. While the radio frequency can travel very fast, it is not good in penetrating walls on a building as it will lost its steam. 

Often than not, all mobile network providers have been asking the same question throughout the years - How to increase the signal quality especially in indoors? Finally, they have come to a solution and that solution will be to utilise or enhancing 3G 900mhz. This is truly in the sense that with the 900mhz frequency travels much slower than the 3G 2100mhz, it can easily provide more signal coverage indoors. Well, once mobile network provides have understood how it works, they had to come up with a plan to mobilise the 3G 900mhz. 

It is not easy to deploy the 3G 900mhz even though all mobile network providers with the exception of 3UK have access to the 2G 900mhz by default. The reason why 3UK does not have 2G 900mhz is because they have build their mobile structure around the 3G 2100mhz frequency and so they are in disadvantage over here. The reason why 3UK is in a disadvantage is because they need to invest in new technology instead of build on the existing technology which they have. 

Apart from that, 3UK have joined force with T-Mobile UK to become the largest network to deploy 3G across the UK. Personally, I feel that 3UK is trying to save money by sharing T-Mobile UK's technology instead. However, given their track record in providing good customer service, I doubt many people will think about staying with the network itself. Don't get me wrong as 3UK have one of the industry's best value for money mobile plans but they need to work on the quality in providing good customer service.  

Having said that, one could not ignore the fact that 3G 900mhz is the way forward. This is because until LTE or 4G is properly roll out in the UK, 3G 900mhz is the alternative solution to the limitation in using WCDMA 2100 or 3G 2100mhz. 3UK, in this sense will lose out to competitors as they only deploy 3G 2100mhz! 3UK could complain about anti-competitive movements by other mobile network providers in the UK which you could also find the news here but in reality, they know that they are in disadvantage due to the fact that they have not given much thought when setting up their 3G network back in 2002. 

Ofcom has previously approved the use of existing GSM 900mhz and GSM 1800mhz for 3G use but 3UK will definitely lose out as they are only running on the 3G 2100mhz or WCDMA 2100! That is why they have responded to Ofcom's plan to utilise 3G 900mhz and 3G 1800mhz in addition to the 3G 2100mhz frequency in the UK. Poor 3UK! 

You may not know but O2 UK was the very first mobile network in the UK to adopt the 3G 900mhz frequency. In doing so, it has increased their network signal tremendously! A good example will be where I live. Before the 3G 900mhz switched on, I could only receive 2bars of 2G service. With the 3G 900mhz switched on, it is now full bar on 3G!!! That is brilliant!

I think O2 UK had no choice but to invest in the 3G 900mhz technology. Otherwise, they will lose more customers because their existing 3G coverage before the 3G 900mhz switched on was poor!!! Well, not all are lost as currently, only O2 UK has deployed the technology and the rest of the mobile networks have yet to commence on the new technology. I feel that 3UK would have to join force with T-Mobile UK again on the sharing of the 3G 900mhz frequency if they want to be competitive once T-Mobile UK might want to join the fun by implementing 3G 900mhz although they are running on the 2G 1800mhz. Most Vodafone UK customers are wondering why Vodafone UK have not roll out the use of 3G 900mhz technology and Vodafone UK need to take into account its customer's dissatisfaction. If they don't improve on their network, they might be another O2 UK before the roll out of the 3G 900mhz technology!

In the end, as a consumer, I am pretty happy in O2 UK rolling out the 3G 900mhz technology. In doing so, I have switched network from 3UK to Giffgaff where I would only have to pay £15 a month via top up for 400 minutes, unlimited text messages and truly unlimited data and I will be enjoying free calls, texts and video calling to another Giffgaff mobile user. Best of all, it is Pay as you Go so I do not need to go through credit scoring! 


Romkin said...

Good article however orange and tmobile don't have 900mhz spectrum they operate in 1800mhz for 2G. Also the problem with 15 quid tariff on 3 and giffgaff that they don't do personal hotspot. For me it is important feature as I want to tether my iPad.

ぜるもう said...

Dear Romkin,

Many thanks for the information! It has just slip out of my mind. I have now made the correction.

In replying your message, I do understand your preference. I think that it is the so called 'restriction'. I believe that it is the same with the £15 MicroSIM only contract from 3UK. Although it has unlimited data, users are not allowed to tether unless they are paying for the £25 a month MicroSIM only deal.

I hope that you are enjoying yourself with your Ipad... I am wondering I should be looking forward to the Ipad3 which supposedly will be launched next month (March 2012).

Romkin said...

If it is going to retina speed of course!

pb88 said...

3G 900 does not work for everyone - and I was told that by O2 customer support today, in response to my complaint that the signal for my iPhone 4s has become almost zero in the last few months at home!
Apparently 3G 900 is a known problem with the iPhone in the UK.
He suggested turning off 'enable 3G I settings, and immediately my phone with from no signal to 5 bars!

ぜるもう said...

@Romkin - It is such a good thing to know that at least O2 is trying to maintain their reputation as one of the best networks in the country.

@pb88 - True, 3G900 does not really work for everyone as it depends on two main factors (a) The mobile device and (b) The network coverage. If your mobile device does not support 3G900, it will be impossible for you to utilise the bandwidth, similar to the coverage of the mobile provider. Personally, there is 3G900 coverage in my area so I am quite lucky to be able to utlise it. I have to admit that it puts a smile on my face as all the other networks in my area running on either low 3G or no 3G coverage at all, O2 shines brightly due to the implementation of the 3G900. I am sad to say that I don't even have 3G connectivity for Vodafone (which is supposed to be the best in the country when we are referring to network coverage both 2G+3G). 3UK is totally useless I am afraid...