The UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has this week made a ruling that will allow the group Everything Everywhere to begin offering up 4G services ahead of a scheduled 4G spectrum auction next year, this against the wishes of several of their rivals. Everything Everywhere is the company that runs T-Mobile and Orange in the UK, and with this decision letting them start up their 4G services before a collection of competitors, their September 11th, 2012 start date may lead to a major change in the mobile market.
The “4G” spectrum that Everything Everywhere already owns runs along 1800MHz, and outside their own camp, Ofcom’s decision to give them the go-ahead has been met with some unsurprising dissent. An O2 spokesman made it clear this morning that they were amongst those groups that are not really happy about the decision.
“We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services. This decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK” – O2
Similarly, the folks at Vodafone have been quite vocal about the situation.
“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” – Vodafone UK
The upcoming auction of 4G spectrum will be bringing on both 800MHz and 2.6GHz to the party, while each of the groups mentioned above already own at least two different kinds of spectrum in the 2G/3G/4G universe. Vodafone and O2 are the proud owners of 900MHz, 1800Mhz, and 2.1GHz spectrum while Everything Everywhere also owns the two higher spectrums 2.1GHz and 1800Mhz. It’s not entirely clear why the other two companies have not yet been granted the ability to offer up their own 1800MHz spectrum.