Feeds

Everything Everywhere grabs UK 4G wheel, rivals thrown off bus

Ofcom green-lights 2012 LTE monopoly

Seven Steps to Software Security

Everything Everywhere will be allowed to deploy 4G this year, at 1800MHz, while the other UK operators will just have to stand in line for next year's auction.

That might sound anti-competitive, but Ofcom reckons that any first-mover advantage will be short-lived and that the benefits of getting 4G deployed outweigh the competitive threat. The regulator labours its case in the proposal [PDF, epically repetitive] as the other operators might see it differently - they have until April 17 to put their case.

EE's rivals can't deploy 4G as they only have bandwidth at 900MHz and 2.1GHz (Vodafone and O2 have small slices at 1800MHz, but not enough for a decent deployment of LTE). There isn't much LTE kit that will work at 900MHz, and 2.1GHz is really packed with 3G signals. Having inherited spectrum allocations from Orange and T-Mobile, EE has plenty of spare capacity and wants to fill it with 4G signals.

Across the entire spectrum EE has 168.8MHz to play with. That's more than O2 and Vodafone combined, and dwarfs Three's paltry 34.1MHz. EE has so much spectrum that the EU has demanded it sell off 30MHz of it; 20MHz by November 2013 and the rest within the following two years, but even after that it will have 90MHz left within the 1800MHz region where LTE will happily play.

1800MHz isn't the perfect LTE band, the most internationally-harmonised band is 2.6GHz which (by happy coincidence) remains empty in the UK thanks to relentless litigation by T-Mobile (and O2) against a public auction. In Germany, France and elsewhere 2.6GHz is already filled with LTE signalling.

In Europe 800MHz is also internationally harmonised, and there's an increasing amount of LTE kit which can use 800MHz, but in the UK that won't be on the auction block until the end of 2012 at best.

So 1800MHz is probably third on the desirable list for LTE networks, but EE is the only operator who has enough of it to be useful. That won't help with the new iPad, which only does LTE on 700MHz and 2.1GHz, neither of which is going to be available in the UK any time soon.

Ofcom has been under tremendous pressure to get some sort of 4G deployed in the UK, as we've watched the rest of the world leave us behind, and the regulator now believes that giving EE a temporary monopoly on LTE is a price worth paying. Anyone who disagrees is asked to drop Ofcom a line. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.