A 21 August 2012 Ofcom decision authorised mobile operator Everything Everywhere to use existing spectrum to launch the UK’s first 4G services within a month.
It comes in the context of the auction of new spectrum which will enable a range of operators to launch 4G. Ofcom’s latest pronouncement on that process, which has been has been slowed by rival operators’ strong views, includes a commitment to support four viable 4G networks and to conclude awards early in 2013.
Ofcom’s decision to vary existing licences effectively enables Everything Everywhere to gain a lead on its competitors. Ofcom acknowledges the contentious nature of its decision arguing it must balance advantages to consumers of one operator launching services early against the potential distortion of competition of allowing that operator a head start.
The contentious history of UK mobile spectrum, Ofcom’s acknowledgement that this is a delicately balanced decision and the strong reaction from Everything Everywhere’s competitors, suggests this is far from the end of the story.