Ofcom allows Everything Everywhere to use existing spectrum for 4G
Everything Everywhere has been given permission to allocate parts of its 2G and 3G wireless spectrum for 4G usage, allowing it to get a head start on its competitors.
Ofcom today approved an application by Everything Everywhere to use its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver 4G services. Everything Everywhere has been awarded with varied licences so is able to launch LTE services using its 1800 MHz spectrum at any point from 11 September this year.
Everything Everywhere's competitors, including Vodafone and O2, have to wait for <a href='../FullArticle.aspx?newsid=534'>Ofcom's auction of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum</a>, which is due to take place at the end of this year, meaning the operators will not be able to launch commercial 4G services until 2013.
Ofcom stated that following a consultation, it concluded that opening up Everything Everywhere's 1800 MHz licences will deliver benefits to consumers. It added that '…there is no material risk that those benefits will be outweighed by a distortion of competition. Delaying doing so would therefore be to the detriment of consumers.'
Thomas Wehmeier, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, commented: 'Today's news should be seen as a strong vindication of Everything Everywhere's bold decision to invest heavily in readying the ground for LTE without having the regulatory clarity that would have mitigated any such risks. Ever since Olaf Swantee took the helm at the UK's largest mobile operator, the company has been focused on establishing itself as the UK's leading high speed mobile broadband network. This has not only seen Everything Everywhere spend large sums in modernising its 2G and 3G networks, but also invest quietly to fully prepare their nationwide network for the arrival of LTE. This meant swapping out old radio equipment and laying the backhaul infrastructure needed to carry large flows of data up and down the country.
'Everything Everywhere now has a golden opportunity to establish an early lead in the UK's 4G market, but it will only be able to exploit this window if it is able to build a successful launch strategy. The most successful 4G operators globally, including in the world's most advanced 4G markets of the US and Korea, have been those that came out of the traps quickly and built their LTE networks out extensively,' Wehmeier added.
The UK is required to make the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum available for 4G use thanks to a decision of the European Commission. The UK is also required by the European Commission and subject to market demand, to complete an authorisation process to liberalise the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum bands for LTE and WiMAX use by the end of this year.
Wehmeier pointed to rumours leaked today by Sky News that Everything Everywhere is planning to drop its dual-brand strategy and will phase out T-Mobile and Orange in favour of repositioning itself with 4G under the Everything Everywhere brand. He said: 'The decision to use the launch of 4G to rebrand could prove a shrewd move. The quality of the network is a key buying criteria's for UK smartphone users and Everything Everywhere will have strong credentials to boast about being the UK's number one network.'
However, Everything Everywhere's moment of glory could be marred by legal challenges from its competitors.