4G row escalates (again)

More bickering followed by a spot of arguing, and then some bad-tempered table thumping
Darren Allan

September 24, 2012

The roll-out of 4G LTE, or “super-fast” mobile broadband, is an issue which has been dogged by complications and setbacks in the UK.

And all the while, more advanced European countries, and nations elsewhere such as the US have had LTE access for some time, with their networks being strengthened as we dilly-dally (to put it politely).

And it looks like the 4G bickering is set to continue, as rival networks throw their hands up at EE (Everything Everywhere) managing to secure Ofcom approval for its 4G network to go live next month (using the firm’s existing 1800MHz spectrum).

Effectively, this will mean EE can offer the new iPhone 5 exclusively with 4G, one of its new features – and that’s something other networks really aren’t happy about, as they have to wait for the spectrum auction before they can get their hands on such airspace.

Hence they’re trying to kick up a fuss, and bring the 4G auction forward so they can get in on the LTE act before too much longer.

If they can’t speed the process up, legal action may be on the cards – and things could get mired in that (again).

An O2 spokesperson told the Telegraph: “It’s fair to say that we’re in discussions with the wider industry over 4G spectrum, but this is in an attempt to bring 4G to all UK customers, not to delay the launch of 4G.”

“As a result, we’re talking as a group about the possibility of bringing the auction forward and asking if the frequencies used in the spectrum can be cleared quickly.”

That said, even the spectrum auction wouldn’t help with the current iPhone 5 – it’s only compatible with 1800MHz in the UK, not 2.6GHz or 800MHz. Apple may release a new model, however, which is…

Anyway, aside from EE, there are other more minor operators who will gain from this scenario. Three has managed to secure a slice of EE’s 1800MHz pie, and will be rolling out 4G early next year, the last we heard.

And now it seems Virgin Media could also be piggy-backing on EE’s 4G network, or at least, the operator is in negotiations to do so according to the Inquirer.


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