UK telcos, Ofcom settle on new 4G timeline

UK mobile operators and regulator Ofcom have agreed to call a truce and work towards launching 4G services six months earlier than planned.
 
O2 and Vodafone have agreed not to pursue threatened legal action against EE to delay its planned LTE rollout, after meetings with Ofcom, BBC News reported
 
The operators had been angered by Ofcom's decision to grant EE permission to start deploying LTE services later this year, while the others were facing a wait until the 4G auction is conducted.
 
EE has yet to reveal a precise launch date for its LTE services, but is likely to commence the rollout later this month. It has announced plans to cover 33% of the UK's population by the end of the year.
 
Any legal action over Ofcom's decision may have delayed the 4G spectrum auction further.
 
Ofcom meanwhile said it has secured the earlier release of digital dividend spectrum for 4G use than initially planned for, meaning the spectrum can be re-purposed for LTE services more quickly.
 
Ofcom now expects the 4G bidding to start early next year, and for operators besides EE to start rolling out services starting in the northern hemisphere's Spring.
 
Ovum analyst Matthew Howett told the BBC that the new 4G schedule means that the UK has gone from being one of Europe's 4G laggards to having “one of the most ambitious 4G roll-out strategies we have seen.”

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