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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mobile Operators against Ofcom’s 4G Decision

The communications watchdog seems to have drawn the ire of Vodafone and O2 after the allocation of existing broadband spectrum for 4G use Ofcom allowed Everything Everywhere to push ahead with 4G services under a 1800 MHz license, ahead of a scheduled auction of spectrum across 800 MHz to 2.6 GHz bands in December 2012.

According to the outfit’s announcement, 4G services will be employed sooner than the experts expected – maybe in the second half of 2012. Ofcom said that the decision in question has been taken after weighing up all the benefits to the users of early access against the potentially unfair competitive advantage it can give to Everything Everywhere.

Good news for consumers, at least for EE’s customers: Ofcom has decided to approve the operator’s application to use its existing 4G spectrum, in spite of acknowledging that Everything Everywhere would enjoy a competitive advantage till December when other providers are able to launch their own LTE services. However, the communications watchdog claims that any advantages will be temporary.

Everything Everywhere announced that it will provide all its users access 4G speeds later in 2012, because the lengthy process of 4G roll out draws nearer to completion. Unsurprisingly, the rival operators weren’t happy with the announcement and are believed to be contemplating joining forces to become Nothing, Nowhere. For instance, Vodafone was shocked with the Ofcom’s decision and claimed that it would skew the balance of the forthcoming auction. The company believes that the ruling had shown a “careless disregard” for the best interests of users, businesses and the wider economy by simply distorting competition.

The representatives of O2 also hit out at the watchdog’s decision, saying that they were hugely disappointed with the news, because it means the majority of consumers would be excluded from the first wave of digital services. In the meantime, the United Kingdom is already lagging behind other countries like the United States in upgrading services from 3G in order to support the huge rise in popularity of connected smartphones.

In other words, spectrum allocation process has caused arguments by operators, while the authorities remained reluctant to step in. In fact, the UK government itself has come under attack during spectrum allocation process, as the shadow cabinet slammed the “costly” delays.

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