eEdge And The Waste Of £23 Billion


Ten years on from when the wireless industry was skinned of £23 billion in the UK 3G licence auction, you tend to wonder whether the industry would have been better off boycotting the event.

After all, here in 2010, are you happy to get an average 500Kbits per second – rising to 1Mbps if you’re lucky?


Many would say Yes knowing the spottiness of the 3G coverage in the UK, and the paltry speeds of its GPRS standard back-up.


But now, according to Will Strauss of Forward Concepts, evolved Edge, or eEdge, can deliver that 500Kbps rising to 1Mbps for the lucky ones.


And anyone with a GSM license in 2000 would not have needed a 3G licence to deliver the GSM enhancement technology eEdge.


And all it would require for delivering it would be a software update at the basestations.


If they’d sat on their hands in 2000, just think of the money they’d have saved.


Tomorrow morning: The Ten Worst Performing IC Product Segments This Year



  1. Well this is it, Keith, 3G is incredibly spotty. It’s an unexpected pleasure to get it. In Scotland, where my Mum lives, Vodafone had to be paid to put a mast up and you still only get problematical GPRS. If all that money hadn’t been spent on 3G licences there would have been more to spend on getting a decent network. Maybe network-sharing among the operators wouldn’t have happened. And maybe we’d all get 500kbps-1Mbps – the capability of eEdge. Hindsight is a great thing, but I wonder if the equipment suppliers kept quiet about the stretch in GSM so as to get to sell the equipment needed for WCDMA.

  2. The real problem with 3G is that there is insufficient coverage. There’s none anywhere near where I live and work – the nearest mast only has 2G antennas. Why the operators paid all that money then didn’t bother with proper coverage beats me. Oh wait, maybe they couldn’t afford to…

  3. Yes of course you’re right, Djonne, eventually the operators would have had to buy spectrum to implement EDGE. But, as I understand it, the condition the government put on the sale of the 3G spectrum was that it had to be used for 3G technologies i.e. Wideband CDMA. The bidders for the 3G licences all had GSM licences which, I think, last in perpetuity. So the GSM operators could have said they didn’t need to put in WCDMA to keep extending the capabilities of their networks – assuming they knew then what they know now i.e. that GSM had so much stretch in it. In 2000, a consensus was in place in the industry that it had to move to WCDMA, for which more spectrum was needed, and the operators all thought they had to have a 3G licence to stay in business. But if they’d known then what they know now, the operators could have called the government’s bluff and could have been much more relaxed about paying such huge sums for additional spectrum. But you’re absolutely right they would have had to have bought additional spectrum at some point.

  4. This must be a joke, I don’t know the efficiency of eEdge, but the problem of 3G is not that it is too slow or inefficient, it is that there is too few bandwidth, and I dont see how staying with 2G technologies would have helped UK or any other country in this regard?

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