The United Kingdom's telecom regulator Ofcom has approved an application made by Everything Everywhere to run the nation's first 4G service.
Ofcom's approval means that the parent company of Orange and T-Mobile is now allowed to rebrand its 1800MHz existing spectrum to offer 4G services in the U.K. Following a consultation, the telecom regulator believes the decision will result in "significant benefits to consumers, and that there is no material risk that those benefits will be outweighed by a distortion of competition."
EE has been issued a license which is valid from September 11. The commercial launch date has not been released beyond "later this year."
The mobile phone operator is naturally pleased with the decision, viewing it as "great news for the U.K." A spokesperson said:
"4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the U.K."
In light of the planned auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands due to take place early next year, this decision has met the wrath of rival firms. However, Ofcom has ignored this, believing that a delay would be "to the detriment of consumers." Perhaps, but with competitors waiting on the auction in order to launch their own 4G services next year, the upper hand EE now holds has not gone unnoticed.
In response to Ofcom's decision, a Vodafone UK spokesperson said:
"We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market.
Ofcom's timing is particularly bizarre given the reports that Everything Everywhere is currently in discussions to sell some of its spectrum to 3, which Ofcom has previously been at such pains to protect with its over-engineering of the 4G auction. This means the balance in the auction will fundamentally change."
Vodafone goes further, looking at the regulator to "finally do its job" and host a "fair and open" auction. Disappointed, Vodafone says that Ofcom's approval "has granted the two most vociferous complainants during that entire process a massive incentive to further delay it."
The company aims to offer 98 percent of the U.K. population indoor 4G by 2015. However, it appears that the telecommunication company is concerned that Ofcom's decision will affect not only the nature of the 4G market, but potentially dull the firm's competitive edge.
"We need to acquire spectrum in the auction to achieve this. Ironically, all that stands in our way right now is the regulator," the spokesperson noted.