UK 4G timetable pushed forward

UK operators will now receive 4G spectrum from a January 2013 auction up to six months earlier than expected after the industry’s top players agreed to settle an ongoing dispute last night.

The plans were rushed in to prevent legal action from Telefónica-owned O2 and Vodafone, which have both been angered by regulator Ofcom’s decision to allow rival Everything Everywhere to launch 4G services ahead of the market.

Everything Everywhere will now be able to launch 4G services before the end of the year as it originally intended.

The UK’s 4G spectrum auction is due to take place in January 2013 with 2.6GHz and 800MHz broadcast frequencies originally planned to be made available to operators by October that year.

Following discussions with Digital UK, TV broadcasters and transmission organiser Arqiva, this timetable will be pushed forward to Spring 2013.

Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom joint venture, Everything Everywhere, is in possession of excess 1800MHz spectrum having merged the holdings of Orange and T-Mobile when it was formed.

The operator was granted permission to refarm some of this spectrum to launch 4G services this year and intends to roll out 4G to 20 million people by Christmas.