Sparks are flying, again, over 4G in the UK, with Everything Everywhere's latest move in the roll-out process. The operator has set up a non-profit organisation, to campaign for a speedier deployment of the next-generation mobile broadband.
While that certainly seems like a laudable goal on the face of it, Everything Everywhere (EE) does have something to gain from the campaign. Currently, it hopes to be the first network to bring 4G LTE live, to the UK and at the end of this year - as EE already owns the spectrum it can use, ahead of the much delayed auction.
Ofcom is currently deciding whether EE can go ahead with an early roll-out, amidst complaints from other operators that EE is trying to leverage itself a commercial advantage.
The 4GBritain.org campaign aims to promote the benefits of 4G and heighten awareness in general, in the hopes that this will push deployment onwards. The campaign is sending a circular around, with folks being asked to sign it: "The coalition supports bringing 4G LTE to the UK as soon as possible, by ensuring the spectrum auctions and release of new spectrum is not delayed further and existing mobile spectrum can be freed up for 4G LTE."
And the scheme is apparently now attempting to sign up celebrities, with EE claiming that Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Mike Lynch are on board.
According to the Guardian, Fry's people refused to comment, and a spokesman for Ross said: "We have been approached and Jonathan is still talking." Lynch's spokesman said the campaign was presented as a "coalition of the operators", but he hasn't yet signed it and is still considering the matter.
Reportedly, rival networks haven't in fact been approached, and aren't too impressed at EE's spearheading of this initiative.
Vodafone said it "looks like a lobbying effort set up to give an unfair competitive advantage to what is already the largest player in the market". A Three spokesman added: "We are beginning to sense that this is indeed a campaign to push for and protect a potential monopoly position."
EE defended itself by saying: "It is disappointing that some of our competitors are falsely claiming that an as yet unlaunched website, being built to help stimulate awareness amongst the public of potential benefits of 4G, is in any way bad for consumers and the wider British economy."
"This is a ridiculous position for them to adopt especially when you consider that when 4G becomes available it will bring significant levels of investment and job creation to the UK."
Source: The Guardian