Ofcom has made a pretty snappy decision and have approved the mobile operator, Everything Everywhere to use the existing spectrum to deliver 4G services, before giving anyone else the opportunity to bid, and as of today Everything Everywhere are the licensees to the 1800 MHz spectrum.
Ofcom have said that they will still host that auction of the additional 800MHz to 2.6GHz bands, which is set to begin later this year, but their decision to give Everything Everywhere access to LTE services from September 11th is one that a lot of other networks are going to be displeased about.
One of those networks has already spoke out and said this in their statement:
“We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. 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.
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. This means the
balance in the auction will fundamentally change.
The regulator has spent several years refusing to carry out a fair and open auction. Now its decision today has granted the two most
vociferous complainants during that entire process a massive incentive to further delay it.
We wholeheartedly support the Secretary of State’s call for the 4G auction to occur in December and look to the regulator to finally do
its job and produce a competitive market for 4G services as soon as possible.
We firmly believe that a fully competitive market for 4G services is in the best interests of Britain. We have already committed ourselves
to reach 98% of the UK population with indoor 4G services by 2015 – two years before Ofcom’s own target – but we need to acquire spectrum
in the auction to achieve this. Ironically, all that stands in our way right now is the regulator.”
Ofcom has today approved an application by the mobile phone operator Everything Everywhere (EE) to use its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver 4G services.1
Following a consultation, Ofcom has concluded that varying EE’s 1800 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.2 Delaying doing so would therefore be to the detriment of consumers.The decision takes account of the forthcoming release of additional spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands, in an auction process set to begin later this year, which will enable other operators to launch competing 4G services from next year.
In parallel with this decision, Ofcom has now issued varied licences to EE which authorise LTE services from 11 September 2012. This means that EE can launch LTE services using its 1800 MHz spectrum at any point from that date, although the precise timing of any launch is a commercial decision for Everything Everywhere.