UK's mobile operators set for 4G talks

Discussions between Ofcom, mobile operators, and Culture Secretary Maria Miller are to take place today, concerning the introduction of 4G networks in the UK.

Prior to the meeting, O2 was optimistic about the chances of a summer 2013 launch. Chief executive Ronan Dunne said, "It's been a very good process and it feels that we've made a lot of progress, so I'm hopeful that we'll have a basis for moving forward." He was, however, still frustrated with the sluggishness of Ofcom's actions.

O2 and Vodafone will be able to offer 4G services only after gaining control of the other parts of the radio spectrum when they are eventually freed up and sold off. Ofcom could speed things up by bringing the auction, which is expected to happen in January, forward by up to a fortnight.

This would mean that 4G networks could be launched by May or June, rather than the latter part of next year. This would also confine EE's period of exclusivity to around half a year.

EE has so far withheld any firm dates of the public release of its 4G service, but today's discussions could pave the way for an October launch.

The other networks, particularly Vodafone and O2 were enraged by EE's 4G headstart, however, if they decide to set up a legal challenge they would risk further reducing the speed of their own progress.

As things stand, Three will take over a portion of EE's 4G spectrum next September.