iPhone 5s & 5c should work on BT’s hybrid 4G network

Also working with Broadcom on hybrid femtocell

out & about with very high quality - patterson

First it was the turn of the UK’s Sunday Times, now it is the turn of the Sunday Telegraph [May 1thh 2014] to release teasing details of BT’s planned hybrid 4G network fed to them by top BT brass [execs]. GoMo News first wrote about this back in December [2013] in an article entitled, ‘BT plotting some kind of hybrid mobile network for UK‘. As we explained, the UK Telco made the mistake of selling off its existing mobile network (Cellnet) and it eventually fell into the hands of Spain Telefonica as O2. Now the UK telecoms giant is playing to create a viable 4G network out of diverse technologies. But we reckon the iPhone  5s & 5c should work on this hybrid 4G network.

First off, BT acquired some spectrum in the UK 4G auctions @ 2.6 GHz. If we’re correct that means operating LTE in both FDD and TDD modes.

Whilst the regular  iPhone 5 won’t work at such frequencies – according to Apple here the 5C model A1529 and the 5S model A support both Band 7 (FDD) and band 38 (TDD) @ 2600 MHz (2.6 GHz).

So when you are wandering around as a BT 4G cellular network handset owner you should be able to get a signal. But BT calculates that for most of the time you won’t need LTE.

That’s because it has its own network of 5.4 million Wi-Fi hotspots onto which its 4G customers could roam. What happens if neither 4G or Wi-fi is available? Well you fall back to 3G.

When 3UK rolled out its 3G network, it realised that when a 3G signal wasn’t available, customers would need something else.

So it did a deal with T-Mobile (now part of EE) to enable its customers to fall back to 2G. Likewise, BT has done a deal with EE so that when its 4G isn’t available they can fall back to 3G or even 2G.

Gavin Patterson, BT’s CEO, is quoted as saying that, “We’re combining those [technologies] all together to be able to create broadband services for customers that you can bundle with fixed so that they can access the internet when they are out and about with a very high quality service that really performs extremely well on things like video.”

The extra element in the mix is what BT might have in mind for its Home Hub offering. It seems that the company wants to add in a femtocell  capability.

And there’s the rub. It doesn’t appear that there’s been much demand for a combined femtocell, router, and Wi-fi hub that works @2.6 GHz.

The Sunday Telegraph hints that BT is having to work hard with Broadcom to prevent clashes. There isn’t a big gap between Wi-fi @ 2.4 GHz and LTE @ 2.6 GHz is there?

As Chris Selley, the BT exec in charge of combining all these technologies, commented, “These are challenges but they are very deliverable and we don’t see it as anything that’s putting the programme at risk.”

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in 4G, EE, LTE, Mobile Operators, Wifi and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to iPhone 5s & 5c should work on BT’s hybrid 4G network

  1. Nick says:

    Incorrect information.

    3 UK selected O2 as the 2G roaming partner in 2003. This agreement ended and 3 replaced O2 with Orange as the 2G roaming partner in 2007. From 2009 3 UK and T-Mobile merged there 3G infrastructure to improve 3G network coverage whilst cutting costs.

    In early 2011 3 UK announced that the Orange 2G back service will cease. 3 UK stated that it was no longer needed. Orange 2G back up is still available in a few rural places

  2. admin says:

    Hi Nick
    You’re kind of splitting hairs here.
    The point I was making is that it wouldn’t be impossible for BT as a full UK MNO to do a deal with another UK MNO in order to provide fallback services.
    The fact that 3 UK swapped from one UK MNO to another actually reinforces the point that such a deal is likely to be concluded.
    But thanks for the historical information, anyway.

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