Globacom launched its mobile 4G service in Nigeria on the 700 MHz LTE band. Subscribers are not happy but Glo’s LTE band is not a bad thing. We explain.
From Broadcast To Mobile Broadband
Before now, the 700 MHz spectrum was allocated to the broadcast industry. Some years ago, the IT world began to push for governments to make the 700 Mhz band available for mobile broadband instead. For example, the European Commission fixed a 2020 deadline for moving broadcasters out of the spectrum. A few countries like France and Germany have made the switch ahead of that deadline.
Outside of Europe, a number of other countries, for example Canada, have reclassified the spectrum from broadcast to mobile broadband.
Why Are 700 MHz LTE Band Smartphones Rare?
Because the 700 MHz band has only been recently been allocated to mobile broadband, it means that manufacturers are only just making smartphones that support the spectrum. Of course, this depends on the markets that the new spectrum has been deployed for use.
You may be wondering why not a lot of smartphones by Chinese brands support the spectrum. China’s authorities decided that the country’s 700MHz frequencies will not be available for reallocation before 2020. As such, there is little incentive for the vast majority of Chinese smartphone makers to equip their devices with 700 MHz LTE support. Only the brands with international operations in countries where 700 MHz networks exist have a motivation to do so.
What Are The Benefits Of Using 700 MHz LTE Band?
- Radio waves in lower frequencies propagate further. This means that a network using 700 MHz can cover more area and reach more subscribers with a smaller number of base stations
- This also means that the cost of LTE rollout on the 700 MHz band is lower compared to networks running 1800 MHz or 2300 MHz
- It penetrates through thick concrete and metal barriers like walls, elevators, and even underground parking lots, meaning that subscribers get stronger 4G signals indoors
- It handles bad weather better
700 MHz LTE Band Is The Future
Because of the above benefits, the 700 MHz band is one of the most sought after spectrum for LTE deployment. More countries and mobile operators will adopt the use of 700 MHz for 4G mobile broadband.
Getting smartphones that support the spectrum may be a bit tedious now, but Glo’s 4G network is not a handicap. The current limited availability of compatible smartphones is a temporary pain that comes from embracing new technology. We will certainly see many more smartphones with 700 MHz LTE support hitting the market. 700 MHz is where the entire mobile world is heading.
PS: Remember the scenario in which Glo’s 4G LTE frequency band clashes with Galaxy Television’s frequency in Ibadan. It sounds like someone in one or more of the regulatory agencies did not do their job well.