Relaxing the planning laws is essential to build networks capable of meeting booming data usage, Vodafone has said.
Speaking to delegates at last week's Westminster Media Forum's Finally 4G event, Matthew Braovac, head of regulatory affairs at Vodafone, which is partnering with O2 in an infrastructure sharing programme, was critical of the existing hurdles operators need to clear to roll out new networks. He said: ‘Planning is slow and bureaucratic. We need a huge upgrade of the kit and that requires faster planning approvals.’
Vodafone, along with O2 and Three, will be one of the latecomers to 4G when it launches its next-generation services next spring. While the UK has lagged behind the likes of Germany, the US and South Korea, Braovac argued that being a laggard to 4G would not necessarily be a bad thing. He said: ‘The UK has shown that starting a bit later than others is not necessarily a bad thing so long as we learn the lessons of other rollouts.’
His opinion was shared by O2’s Derek McManus, who said: ‘My view is while the UK may not be the first, the aggression it will show to roll out [4G networks] means it will become the leader, and that’s by looking at the markets 4G is trading in.’
CCS Insight analyst Martin Garner said the UK was in better shape for getting 4G than it was when 3G services were launched in the past decade. He said: ‘We are launching 4G into a market that is much more certain than 3G ever was. Enterprise users will get it very quickly as they are prepared to pay for it there and then or wait for more competition. With consumers, I think we need to explain the benefits. As an industry we are not very good at that.’
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion was the only manufacturer speaking at the conference but it talked up 4G’s potential. Bob El-Hawary, senior director at RIM, said: ‘It will be a revolutionary launch, just as 4G was. We believe 4G will help RIM embark on a new era of mobile computing. The speeds through 4G will be very important compared with what we had in the past.’
Author: Graeme Neill