It was a big day for the mobile industry in the UK on Tuesday, as not only did Vodafone and O2 cement their working relationship together, but Ofcom held important peace talks between all networks and government officials too. The purpose of the meeting was to solve the question of legal action against EE, and to finalise plans for the all-important 4G spectrum auction.
Although 4G’s launch in the UK has suffered from delays and problems all along, Ofcom’s get-together ended positively, and contained good news for UK mobile users who’re looking forward to a high speed data network.
Two key decisions were made. First, EE’s competitors have agreed not to take legal action against the company, which in turn paved the way for the spectrum auction to be brought forward to January 2013. It may still be a few months away, but if EE was taken to court, the auction would have been postponed until the matter was settled.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said she was “grateful to the mobile operators for their cooperation in bringing forward vital 4G services”, and again suggested that the high speed data network could boost the country’s economy by up to £3bn.
Once the auction has taken place, the bandwidth will need to be cleared of the digital TV services that currently occupy it, then Vodafone, O2 and Three can get to work on launching 4G LTE here in the UK. If all goes well, we could see services start in the summer.
By bringing the auction forward, Ofcom has shortened EE’s period of exclusivity, which helped competing networks with the decision not to take EE to court.