Ofcom has approved
mobile operator Everything Everywhere, owned by Orange and T-Mobile, to use the
existing 1800MHz spectrum to allow them to offer 4G services.
The telecoms regulator carried out a consultation to
determine whether "varying EE’s 1800 MHz licences now will deliver significant
benefits to consumers”. They believe that delaying the use of the spectrum will
prove to be detrimental to consumers.
An auction of the additional 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrums
will be held later this year and it was previously thought that consumers would
not see any benefits of the 4G spectrum until late next year. However, the
licensing of the 1800MHz spectrum for Everything Everywhere means that we
may see 4G services a lot quicker than previously thought.
The new licenses will authorise Everything Everywhere to
launch LTE services from September 11 2012; however, it will be up to the
mobile network when they launch the service following this date.
The 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrums were originally released to
mobile networks in the 1990s, when they were allowed to be used for 2G services
only, which included text and calls.
Ofcom then ruled that the spectrum could also be used for 3G in 2011; this latest
ruling allows Everything Everywhere to also use the spectrum for 4G "to meet
the growing demand from internet-connected devices such as smartphones and
Should they now receive requests from other networks, they
will look at licensing according to market demand.