PCCW to jumpstart UK LTE market with 2012 launch

Hong Kong-based PCCW plans to disrupt the UK wireless market by launching LTE service as soon as next year. The company confirmed that construction of the network could start later this year, and it hopes to be well ahead of other UK operators.

PCCW is talking with equipment vendors to establish the network, Nicholas James, CEO of the PCCW subsidiary UK Broadband, told the Financial Times. PCCW holds large segments of the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands, which it claims will be very suitable to support LTE mobile broadband services.

However, the use of this spectrum will call for infrastructure and device vendors to produce equipment that is capable of operating within these bands. James told the FT that the company is currently working with suppliers, "and we are finalising our network planning and business plan."

UK Broadband plans to operate a wholesale LTE network, and, according tot he FT,  the company has already started discussions with Virgin Mobile (among others) to gauge their level of interest in becoming MVNOs of the new venture. UK Broadband's LTE network would initially target city centre and urban areas where the demand for high speed mobile broadband is strongest among consumers and business subscribers.

With the UK auction of 800MHs and 2.6GHz spectrum for LTE services is not scheduled to start until 2012--or delayed even further if fresh legal challenges to spectrum ownership rules are successful--this move by PCCW could see it becoming the first to offer LTE in the UK for months or years before the established operators are ready to launch.

For more:
- see the Financial Times article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Broadband Choice article

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