Following yesterday’s meeting with network providers and
Maria Miller, Ofcom has announced that the rollout of 4G will come to many UK
cities five months earlier than expected.
The auction to sell off the spectrum band previously used by
terrestrial television will be brought forward to the end of this year "in a
way that ensures a competitive market”. It’s expected that the bidding process
will start at the beginning of next year.
Last month, the telecoms regulator gave Everything
Everywhere (EE) permission to launch 4G services on their existing network, a
move that was met with criticism by rival firms O2 and Vodafone at the time.
However, it seems that the two companies have now dropped
any threat of legal action following the talks held yesterday.
"The actions we have taken with industry and government
avoids the risk of significant delay and is tremendous news for consumers who
might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of
mobile broadband services,” Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive said.
"Ofcom's objective has always been to release the spectrum
as early as possible and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end
of the year.”
The news comes after Ofcom held a number of discussions with
TV broadcasters Digital UK and transmission company Arqiva in order to release
the necessary frequencies for the 4G spectrum (800Mhz and 2.6Ghz) ready for
This led to agreements to clear the spectrum ahead of time,
due in part to the clearing process already being ahead of schedule following
the switchover to digital TV. This means that the TV transmitters will be
released five months early, in some cases.
TV transmitters in Oxford and Waltham will be cleared by May
2013 and will allow for the roll out of 4G to about 9 million people in numerous
cities such as London, Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and
In Glasgow and Edinburgh, around one million people will
benefit from the early clearance of transmitters by three months, with the
technology becoming available in the area by around April 2013.Ofcom
say that outdoor coverage in the UK should eventually be available for more
than 99% of the population.