Everything Everywhere given 4G go ahead by Ofcom

Everything Everywhere given 4G go ahead by Ofcom

Ofcom, the communication watchdog, has approved an application from Everything Everywhere (EE) to use its existing spectrum to deliver 4G.

The mobile operator is expected to launch the superfast mobile internet service in October, well ahead of its main rivals in the UK.

EE’s rivals will be forced to wait until the end of the year for their chance to bid for a lower quality frequency spectrum in Ofcom’s auction process.

In a statement from the watchdog, it accepted that it would be likely EE would have a competitive advantage over it rivals during the period before they were able to launch the service.

It continued: “We consider on the evidence available that any such advantage is unlikely to result in an enduring advantage which distorts competition to the detriment of consumers.

“We have therefore today issued EE with varied 1800 MHz licences with the provisions authorising LTE and WiMAX coming into force on September 11th 2012.”

EE’s two main competitors, O2 and Vodafone claim that they will be placed at a disadvantage as a result of Ofcom’s decision.

“We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of customers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services,” said a spokesperson for O2.

“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,” a Vodafone spokesperson said.

Arrow’s Head of Products, Greg Eaton commented, “I am surprised that Ofcom has allowed EE to launch 4G services prior to the completion of the round of auctions for the remaining 4G spectrum as this could unduly influence the auction process. Clearly if EE has rolled out live services (albeit on a small geographical footprint) then it will have access to live customer data (take-up, usage patterns etc) which will allow the company to bid based on actual usage patterns rather than just models, or consumer behaviour based on free trials. In addition, there is the risk that EE finds a legal method to delay the auction process further, and thus extend its competitive advantage.