As a prelude to an auction of wireless broadband spectrum that is expected to rank as the largest sale of airwaves in the United Kingdom (UK), British telecom regulator Ofcom approved rules on Monday to allow wireless operators to swap spectrum considered suitable for mobile broadband networks, to help meet growing demands for wireless services. The directive, permitting sales of spectrum currently licensed to carriers in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands, will, among other things, enable Everything Everywhere (EE) to comply with European Commission (EC) merger conditions that require EE to divest 25% of its spectrum holdings in the 1800 MHz band. (EE, the UK’s top-ranked wireless provider, was formed last year from the union of the British wireless units of Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom.) To retain the proceeds of that spectrum sale, EE is required under EC merger conditions to sell its channels to a single buyer prior to the start of auctions next year. If that effort fails, EE will have to surrender the spectrum in question to the British government which, in turn, will add those channels to the auction. Although EE has yet to announce a deal, rivals O2 and Vodafone—which already control channels in the 1800 MHz band—are viewed as likely suitors. Observing that more than 12 million of the UK’s 80 million wireless devices are smart phones for which network demand is growing, Ofcom asserted that the new rules “are aimed at giving operators added flexibility.”