Three to join early 4G rollout after striking deal with Everything Everywhere

Mobile operator Three looks set to benefit from Everything Everywhere’s early 4G go-ahead, and may even join T-Mobile and Orange in launching super-fast data services by the end of the year.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom caused quite a stir yesterday by granting Everything Everywhere permission to roll out its 4G upgrade before rival firms, which are forced to wait until a bandwidth auction later this year and an eventual implementation in 2013. The likes of Vodafone have already voiced their dismay at Ofcom’s decision to afford a competitor a head-start.

But while most mobile carriers were left preoccupied by their own indignation yesterday, Three was putting the finishing touches to a deal with Everything Everywhere that sees a part of EE’s 1800MHz spectrum sold to Three. Everything Everywhere obliged to the transfer as part of an agreement made during its formation as a hybrid company, and Three now looks set to utilise its newly acquired, 4G-approved band.

"As part of the commitments given when the European Commission approved the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK in March 2010, Everything Everywhere was required to divest 2x15MHz of its 1800MHz spectrum" said an Everything Everywhere spokesperson in a statement to TechRadar.

“In accordance with these commitments, Everything Everywhere has today announced an agreement with Three [to transfer the spectrum]. Ofcom and the European Commission will review whether the divestment satisfies the merger commitments and a response is expected within the next three months."

Three seems optimistic it will join T-Mobile and Orange in gaining an industry advantage and launching 4G services by the end of the year. A company spokesperson told Computer Weekly, “It could use the spectrum for 4G as the decision made today [Ofcom’s approval] applied to the whole band, not just the section Everything Everywhere will own once it has sold off the required portion,” he said. “The whole band has been liberalised and if this deal goes through 3 can use it in that way if it chooses.”

Everything Everywhere, meanwhile, seems keen to capitalise on its 4G momentum by establishing an alternative brand in the coming months. A company announcement read, “Everything Everywhere confirms that we are planning to launch a new brand in the UK later this year. This new brand will sit alongside our existing brands Orange and T-Mobile. We will reveal more information on our exciting plans in due course.”