Feathers are flying again over the forthcoming divvy-up of UK LTE bandwidth, with Vodafone accusing the UK regulator Ofcom of “taking leave of its senses”, for allowing Everything Everywhere to use existing spectrum to run 4G services.
Everything Everywhere is a joint venture involving T-Mobile and Orange. Last week Ofcom announced that it would allow the companies to operate LTE services over the 1,800MHz band previously used by 2G mobile services.
Although the decision is still subject to consultation, Vodafone CEO Guy Lawrence told the Sunday Times that the regulator was allowing Everything Everywhere an unfair head start on the next generation of mobile internet services.
Vodafone and other UK operators have until Thursday 22 March to lodge a formal complaint, and it is understood that the operator Three is also preparing to make a formal statement regarding the deal.
This is the latest round of wrangling in a process that has seen the auction of LTE frequencies delayed a number of times, leaving the UK trailing many other European countries on the implementation of 4G.
It’s easy to see why Laurence is miffed. If it goes through, the Everything Everywhere initiative could see two of the sector’s biggest operators rolling out 4G services in the UK before the end of the year, while remaining operators are left waiting on the official, and repeatedly delayed, release of LTE spectrum.
A cynic might suggest, as Guy Laurence was reported doing, that Orange and T-Mobile might then seek to delay the forthcoming bandwidth auction, currently billed to take place early next year, with litigation and general nonsense; effectively blocking rival operators from launching 4G services while their own beds in nicely.
This would be unfair, and operators keen to deliver the superfast mobile internet service to consumers, would be right to complain. Though the cynic might suspect that what really rankles them is that they’ve not in a position to do the same.