UK LTE services could be launched six months ahead of schedule if operators are successful in persuading the telecoms regulator Ofcom to revamp the spectrum auction rules.
The four operators are said to be working to understand where time can be saved in the lead up to the deployment of LTE services, according to a Mobile Today report. The present focus is on conducting the licence auction over a shorter period and reducing the time needed to relocate existing services away from 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum, the designated LTE bands. The discussions also involve potential infrastructure providers to ensure they are able to meet any revised scheduling, the report said, without citing sources
If all parties agree, then an unnamed source at a UK operator suggested that LTE could be launched in the UK next spring, as against autumn as planned.
O2 UK CEO Ronan Dunne told Mobile Today that it was in the country's best interests to give businesses and consumers a range of LTE services to choose from across different operators. He said it's very much in that spirit where we are all saying "let's spend less time debating and let's talk about giving consumers some choice."
Under the current LTE licence auction timetable, Ofcom will take bids starting early next year and plans to having the spectrum clear by summer 2013. This would enable successful bidders to roll out LTE services on both the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequencies by the autumn.
Rumours that O2 UK was pushing Ofcom to overhaul the auction timescales emerged last week, but this lobbying now seems to involve the four major UK operators in a co-ordinated effort. According to the Financial Times, the UK government brokered a deal among the operators to refrain from any court action while talks continue, but the period of restraint lasts only one month. EE has announced plans to launch LTE on its 1800 MHz spectrum within weeks, following Ofcom's approval earlier this year for it to do so.
- see this Mobile Today article
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