Everything Everywhere could roll out 4G in the UK by September after Ofcom ruling

21 August 2012 | Kavit Majithia


UK watchdog Ofcom has approved Everything Everywhere’s bid to use existing airwaves to begin providing 4G services in the UK earlier than its rivals.

UK consumers could see 4G connectivity on networks from as early as September this year.

Ofcom claims the benefits of 4G capabilities to consumers will outweigh the risk of unfair competition in the UK market.

Rivalling operator Vodafone had argued Everything Everywhere’s allocation of 1800MHz radio frequency was unfair because it allowed the company to reconfigure the allocation to handle 4G, while other companies in the market have to wait for new licences in the upcoming UK auction.

The frequency auction is set to take place in the UK later this year. Analysts have claimed there is an urgent need to allocate spectrum and begin rolling out 4G services as the UK falls further behind the US, Asia and other parts of western Europe in terms of connectivity to next-generation services.

“This is a welcome leap forward given the painful delays that have beset the auction of the 4G spectrum bands at 800 and 2600,” said Thomas Wehmeier, principal analyst at Informa.

“Today’s news should be seen as a strong vindication of Everything Everywhere’s bold decision to invest heavily in readying the ground for LTE without having the regulatory clarity that would have mitigated any such risks.”

According to Reuters, Vodafone was “frankly shocked by the decision”, while operator Three claimed the ruling would make the market less competitive.

Wehmeier warned that while the opportunity was now there for Everything Everywhere, a lot of work still had to be done to ensure the company established a lead in the UK 4G market.

“They have a golden opportunity to establish an early lead in the UK’s 4G market, but it will only be able to exploit this window if it is able to build a successful launch strategy,” he said.

“The most successful 4G operators globally, including in the world’s most advanced 4G markets of the US and Korea, have been those that came out of the traps quickly and built their LTE networks out extensively.

Everything Everywhere could feasibly begin to roll out 4G from as early as September 11.