UK operators form JV to clear 800 MHz for rapid LTE launch

The four major UK operators have formed a joint venture to accelerate the launch of LTE services by pushing for the removal of TV channels from the 800 MHz band.

The new JV, called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) and funded by EE, Telefónica's O2 UK, 3 UK and Vodafone, aims to smooth the transition of LTE into the 800 MHz band without causing interference to adjacent digital TV channels.

The deal, which was brokered by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, is part of the recently agreed "peace plan" that will see UK operators put aside legal action and work together to deploy LTE services following the forthcoming spectrum auction.

Andrew Pinder, who is chairman of the UK payments regulator PhonepayPlus, will act as interim chairman for DMSL, and said in an Ofcom statement that the JV is an excellent response to the government's challenge to set up this company as quickly as possible. "It represents a real milestone and I will continue to work with all of the mobile operators and other stakeholders to get plans in place for the rapid launch of LTE services on the spectrum to be auctioned next year," he said,

Ofcom CEO Ed Richards added that this move is further evidence of the progress that is being made by the industry. "The LTE auction is already on track to begin at the end of the year and the creation of DMSL ahead of time represents yet another step towards bringing consumers early access to the next generation of mobile broadband services," he said,

However, it appears that UK operators looking to launch LTE in the 2.6 GHz band could cause interference to airport radar systems. This would mean, according to Mobile Europe, that airport operators will be required to install filters in their radars to exclude LTE transmission. Meanwhile, the airports, especially those around London using older radar equipment, could impose exclusion zones for LTE at 2.6 GHz.

O2 UK, which together with Vodafone are the most likely by be affected by this issue, said it was working with the airport radar operators to prioritise the installation of filters.

For more:
- see this Ofcom statement
- see this Mobile Europe article

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