UK telecoms regulator Ofcom is to meet with mobile operators
and Culture Secretary Maria Miller later today, to discuss bringing forward the rollout of 4G services, as well as the possibility of bringing the spectrum auction forward.
It’s thought that discussions will include possible plans to
have 4G services rolling out as early as May 2013, although this is likely to
be through Everything Everywhere (EE), who have already been given permission
to use a part of their existing spectrum to offer the service.
EE announced a couple of weeks ago that they would be
rolling out 4G services to 16 UK cities as soon as possible; however, so far
they have not released an official launch date for the service.
Rival companies O2 and Vodafone have since complained that
EE are being allowed to offer the service before the spectrum auction takes
place early next year, with O2 threatening to take legal action over the
However, if the auction is brought forward, it’s likely that
it will only be by two weeks or so, meaning that only EE will be able to offer
4G until that time and giving them an unfair advantage over competitors.
Last week, Vodafone and O2 were given permission by Ofcom to share their network masts and
other technologies so that they can over better coverage for their UK
customers. It’s also thought that this will allow the two companies to roll out
4G services quickly when they become available following the auction.
"One physical grid, running independent networks, will
mean broader coverage and, crucially, investment in innovation and better
competition for the customer," O2 boss Ronan
Dunne said in a statement.The upcoming auction will sell off part of the
radio waves spectrum that was previously used for terrestrial television; 4G
will give consumers faster mobile browsing and download speeds.