Everything Everywhere gets approval to refarm 2G spectrum for LTE

Everything Everywhere (EE) received approval from the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom to reuse its 1800 MHz 2G spectrum for LTE services.

This move by Ofcom, which is provisional at this stage, could enable EE to leap ahead of its rivals by being the first UK operator to launch LTE services by the end of this year. "Allowing EE to reuse its spectrum in this way is likely to bring material benefits to consumers, including faster mobile broadband speed and--depending on how EE uses the spectrum--potentially wider mobile broadband coverage in rural areas," Ofcom said in a statement, according to Reuters.

While interested parties have been granted four weeks to submit their views, Vodafone has already registered its surprise at Ofcom's decision. The operator said it was concerned that the move had been taken prior to the UK's LTE spectrum auction rules being finalised. "We seriously doubt that consumers' best interests will be served by giving one company a significant head start before any of its competitors have a clear path to LTE," a Vodafone spokesman told Reuters.

However, according to a Telegeography report, Ofcom said that allowing EE to reuse its 2G 1800MHz band for LTE services would not distort competition in the sector.

EE said that it would begin trials of LTE at 1800MHz in Bristol starting next month, having already tested out LTE services in Cornwall using 800MHz spectrum. The company also told the Financial Times that it would participate in the auction for sub-1GHz spectrum in the UK whenever it takes place.

Commenting on Ofcom's move, Ovum analyst Matthew Howett said that the proposals were both consistent with the European Comissions's spectrum liberalisation process and follows a request to Ofcom during the recent additional consultation on the award of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands. "The proposal to grant EE's request is both a win for it and potentially consumers in terms of getting early access to 4G services--by as much as 15 months earlier than its competitors could launch services," Howett said in a statement.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Telegeography article
- see this Financial Times article (reg. req.)
- see this Ovum release

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