Ofcom gives Everything Everywhere a headstart on 4G
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 21 Aug 2012 at 08:53
Ofcom has given Everything Everywhere the green light to start rolling out 4G services using its existing radio spectrum, sparking howls of protest from rival operators.
Everything Everywhere has been lobbying for permission to use some of its 2G 1,800MHz spectrum for 4G services – ahead of the main 4G auctions for 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum.
The project was delayed after opposition from rivals, but has now been cleared.
"Ofcom has today approved an application by the mobile phone operator Everything Everywhere to use its existing 1,800MHz spectrum to deliver 4G services," the telecoms regulator said in a statement.
The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through
"Ofcom has concluded that varying Everything Everywhere's 1,800 MHz licences now will deliver significant benefits to consumers, and 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."
With rivals unable to fall back on existing capacity, they will have to wait until next year before they can even bid on spectrum to start rolling out services in the delayed 4G action process – leaving carriers up in arms.
"We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision," said a Vodafone spokesperson. "The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market."
According to Vodafone, the move will give both Everything Everywhere and 3 an advantage in the market, with the latter reportedly interested in buying a slice of Everything Everywhere's 1,800MHz allocation.
"Ofcom’s timing is particularly bizarre given the reports that Everything Everywhere is currently in discussions to sell some of its spectrum to 3, which Ofcom has previously been at such pains to protect with its over-engineering of the 4G auction," Vodafone said. "This means the balance in the auction will fundamentally change."
Vodafone also criticised Everything Everywhere and 3 for slowing down the auction process, claiming that Ofcom has now rewarded the very carriers that it blames for the delay-causing friction during 4G negotiations.
"The regulator has spent several years refusing to carry out a fair and open auction," Vodafone said. "Now its decision today has granted the two most vociferous complainants during that entire process a massive incentive to further delay it."
According to Ofcom, it has issued "varied licences to EE which authorise LTE services from 11 September 2012".
“This means that EE can launch LTE services using its 1,800MHz spectrum at any point from that date, although the precise timing of any launch is a commercial decision for Everything Everywhere," the regulator said.
On the plus side...
... at least the sale price for 4G spectrum when it eventually happens will likely now be lower with one or two major competitors no longer needing to bid. This should mean more profits for the phone companies who don't already have spare bandwidth they can utilise as 4G. Of course it does also mean that the UK government is likely to make less cash than originally predicted from the sale. Hmm is this a win or loss for consumers?
By skarlock on 21 Aug 2012
Sadly, I have to agree
This gives EE a massive headstart in 4G whilst Vodafone and O2 don't even know when they can even bid for a license. This also puts EE in a powerfull position that it can delay the auction whilst not effecting it's business at all.
By JStairmand on 21 Aug 2012
That EE can't also vote for the spectrum? Its just a thought...
By khellan on 21 Aug 2012
Taking a step back...
Anyone else think it's ridiculous that an operator has to get permission from Ofcom about how it uses its assigned bands? As long as the frequencies and tx power are adhered to, what difference does it make WHAT the licensee decides to use those bands for?
The over-regulation of telecoms in this country really stifles competition and innovation.
Or am I being too simplistic?
By PaulOckenden on 21 Aug 2012
Surely Ofcom could have made it conditional that such bandwidth is shared with O2 and Vodafone on fair and reasonable terms until the auction process is concluded?
By Mistermcee on 21 Aug 2012
Go ahead anyway?
Why can't Vodafone & O2 tell Ofcom to get stuffed and go ahead and roll out their 4G services anyway? Ofcom have been fairly useless as of late.
Besides, whatever happened to the roaming agreement across all UK networks that was supposed to be setup? THAT would be something far more useful to the average consumer!
By mrmmm on 21 Aug 2012
- Huawei Ascend P6 review: first look
- Adobe Illustrator CC review: first look
- Let MPs tell us what they really want ISPs to block
- Adobe Photoshop CC review: first look
- WWDC 2013 and iOS 7 launch: live blog
- Sony VAIO Pro review: first look
- Want child porn blocked? Meet the IWF
- Is it worth upgrading a media centre to Windows 8?
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Facebook "click on the photo" scams: how they work
- Three alternatives to Word's spelling and grammar checker
- Google two-step verification: a must for business email
- Microsoft Office and the death of upgrades
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts