Everything Everywhere (EE), the operator of the combined Orange and T-Mobile wireless network in Great Britain, received approval this week from national telecom regulator Ofcom to launch fourth-generation (4G) LTE mobile broadband services starting on September 11. Ofcom’s ruling is a key victory for EE, which, last January, petitioned the regulator for authority to use its current channel allotment in the 1800 MHz band for 4G services. The decision will give EE a head start of between six months and a year over its rivals in deploying 4G services for which spectrum auctions are scheduled later this year. Outlining the risks of continued delays in the introduction of 4G wireless broadband services to the British wireless market and the national economy as a whole, Ofcom reasoned that “varying EE’s 1800 MHz license now will deliver significant benefits to consumers.” While acknowledging that its decision will give EE a competitive advantage over other carriers that must wait until the conclusion of the long-delayed auction process to implement their own 4G services, Ofcom said in a statement that there is no material risk that EE’s head start will result “in an enduring advantage which distorts competition to the detriment of consumers.” However, rival carriers that intend to participate in the upcoming auction, including Vodafone UK and O2, disagreed, as O2 criticized the Ofcom ruling as one that “undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK.” O2 further lamented that “the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services.” Notwithstanding these protests, an official of EE applauded Ofcom’s action as “great news” and said his company looks forward to making 4G services “available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK.”
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Ofcom authorizes everything everywhere to roll out 4G services in September
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