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Everything Everywhere to bring 4G to UK

Everything Everywhere, the alliance between carriers Orange and T-Mobile, has been given the green light by Ofcom to roll out 4G networks in the UK from September 11, well ahead of the scheduled auction. Consumers may be pleased, but competitors O2 and Vodafone definitely aren’t.
August 23, 2012

I’ll admit to being annoyed when Ofcom released the news that the 4G auction in the UK wouldn’t even start until later this year and it would likely be 2013 until 4G networks began to roll out. Thankfully the UK telecoms regulator has seen sense and decided that, since it is ready to go, Everything Everywhere can start offering 4G from September 11th.

Exactly when Everything Everywhere, an alliance between Orange and T-Mobile, actually start offering 4G is up to them. Ofcom stated that the exact rollout would depend on the carrier’s commercial strategy. The unlikely alliance between the two companies was only granted on the stipulation that they offer some of their 4G spectrum to another company. News has it that rival carrier Three is in talks to acquire a chunk of it.

The decision is a bit of a surprise and other rival companies like O2 and Vodafone are not happy at all. Only Everything Everywhere is in a position to reconfigure its spectrum to handle 4G. Their rivals will have to watch and wait for the auction. Clearly this is a great opportunity for Everything Everywhere to gain a competitive advantage, but much will depend on how they handle the launch.

Apparently Everything Everywhere has been trialing 4G services in the North of England since June. It’s not clear when they will actually launch the 4G LTE network, but they did say this on their website:

“Ofcom’s decision to make 4G available this year is great news for the UK. Consumers will soon be able to benefit from the much greater mobile speeds that 4G will deliver. 4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK.”

This seems like a rare case of the regulator putting consumers first. Why delay the launch to satisfy the anti-competitive complaints of specific companies? Any other UK people care to comment?