Everything Everywhere, the owner of mobile operators Orange and T-Mobile, has won its battle to deliver high-speed 4G services ahead of its rivals, after Ofcom approved an early rollout.
The telecoms regulator has granted EE permission to upgrade its existing 1800MHz spectrum this year, with enhanced connectivity available to the firm’s 27 million customers from 11 September.
“Ofcom’s decision to make 4G available this year is great news for the UK,” said the company in a statement. “Consumers will soon be able to benefit from the much greater mobile speeds that 4G will deliver. 4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK.”
Indeed, the 11 September launch ties is rather nicely with the release of the next-generation iPhone which is due the following day – fully equipped with 4G LTE technology.
But the approval for EE to begin its 4G delivery ahead of rival operators has already caused anger. Ofcom had previously stated its determination to oversee a competitive implementation of 4G, and announced last month that the bandwidth auction would take place later this year with a rollout following in 2013. Yet its claims that consumer benefits outweigh competition concerns sees EE trump fellow operators with a launch coming earlier than expected.
Vodafone, which has persistently vented its frustration at EE’s plans to launch 4G before it and other firms, said, "We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market.”