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Britain’s largest mobile operator Everything Everywhere (EE) has secured Ofcom’s approval to use its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to deliver 4G services. The regulator says varying EE’s 1800 MHz licences now will deliver significant benefits to consumers, and that there is no material risk that those benefits will be outweighed by a distortion of competition. 


The decision takes account of the forthcoming release of additional spectrum in the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands, in an auction process set to begin later this year, which will enable other operators to launch competing 4G services from next year. In parallel with this decision, Ofcom has also issued varied licences to EE which authorise LTE services from 11 September 2012. This means that EE can launch LTE services using its 1800 MHz spectrum at any point from that date.

Everything Everywhere is a joint venture (JV) that was formed in 2010 between Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom. The JV was formed following the merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK, which have since then operated individually. However, that may change following Ofcom’s announcement. Media reports speculate that from early 2013 Everything Everywhere will become the branding behind Orange UK and T-Mobile UK.  

The 1800 Mhz is often underutilized in many markets and supports spectrum harmonisation making it suitable for LTE services. Since the majority of the spectrum is allocated to voice, refarming is much easier than 2600 MHz used in other deployments. The first 1800 MHz LTE network was launched in Poland and could only initially support single mode operation at 1800 MHz. However, the availability of dual mode LTE dongles from Huawei, ZTE and Sierra Wireless has removed this obstacle and has paved the way for widespread deployments of 1800 MHz LTE services worldwide.

For operators, the motivation to use 1800 MHz is the increased coverage area, which is nearly twice as large as 2600 MHz, and coupled with the possibility to reuse antenna equipment from GSM1800 and UMTS 2100 makes it an attractive proposition. More than 350 mobile operators already hold licences in this spectrum.


Meanwhile, O2 says it is disappointed with Ofcom's decision. O2 says the move means the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services. It says the decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK.

By Angela Sutherland


#1 BoCo 2012-08-24 17:09
So what happens to the rest of the license applications, seems like favoritism.

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