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O2 and Vodafone welcome early 4G auction

03 Oct 2012
Mobile mast

UK mobile operators have welcomed the the timetable for launching 4G networks being brought forward by six months.

The move means O2 and Vodafone have abandoned any threats of legal action against Ofcom over its decision to let rival EE run 4G on its existing networks. It also reduces the head start EE will have to sell these services to consumers.

"We welcome the statement from the DCMS and are pleased to have influenced the process to bring the date forward for universal access to 4G," an O2 representative said.

Vodafone also welcomed the efforts by Ofcom and the government to broker the agreement.

"There is still a lot of work to be done but we now have a path to the launch of competitive 4G services next spring, bringing real benefits to consumers, businesses and the wider economy," a Vodafone representative said.

Three also welcomed the move. "We see this as positive step for UK consumers by removing the monopoly on LTE that would have benefitted just one operator," said a spokesperson.

EE used the announcement from DCMS to promise the availability of their own 4G network by 30 October in 10 cities across the UK.

Telecoms analyst Matthew Howett from Ovum said that the move would reduce the impact of EE's first mover advantage partly, because although EE is able to tout 4G capabilities, its offering on the 1800MHz spectrum will not be as good as what the new networks will provide.

"Much has been made of the iPhone 5 '4G exclusivity' that EE will have. However the other players have also been busy upgrading their 3G technologies, which for a time will almost rival EE's 4G speed capability," he said.

"The problem lies with them being able to market this speed boost as true 4G - it isn't and will only come once they have acquired the new and additional spectrum that is now finally on the horizon."

The outcome of the meeting is a welcome piece of good news around 4G in the UK after years of in-fighting and the risk of legal challenges has left the nation far behind economic rivals such as Germany and the US.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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