Everything Everywhere is clear to launch 4G services on refarmed 1800-MHz spectrum from September, but won’t yet commit to a date for taking the service live.
UK regulator Ofcom yesterday confirmed it has amended the operator’s current license to cover 4G services, following a five-month long consultation. The regulator claims it sees no risk that competition in the market will be distorted by its ruling, because it has now set out a timetable for the auction of 4G spectrum in the 800-MHz and 2.6-GHz frequencies later this year.
However, while the decision clears Everything Everywhere to go live from September 11, the carrier has yet to make a decision on when to launch commercial 4G services.
“Everything Everywhere is not announcing precise launch timings today, but looks forward to revealing more in due course,” a spokeswoman told TelecomsEMEA.net. A statement on the firm’s website reveals little more. “4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year.”
Informa Telecoms & Media principal analyst Thomas Wehmeier hails the decision as a “major milestone for the UK mobile market,” and one that vindicates Everything Everywhere chief executive Olaf Swantee’s decision to invest heavily in 4G-capable network equipment.
While Wehmeier concedes the refarming decision gives Everything Everywhere a chance to take the lead in 4G in the UK, he notes it will only be able to cash in on that opportunity “if it is able to build a successful launch strategy.”
Rival carriers were quick to express their disappointment at the decision. O2 states it “undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK,” while a Vodafone spokesperson says the regulator “has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy.”
It is a different story at Three UK, which has agreed to acquire two blocks of 15-MHz spectrum from Everything Everywhere’s 1800-MHz allocation. Chief executive Dave Dyson says the deal will “more than double the capacity available to customers on our network.”