In a move that isn’t likely to please the other mobile companies, OfCom has granted Everything Everywhere (formerly Orange and T-Mobile) approval for using its existing 1800 MHz spectrum to offer 4G data services to its customers. Considering the auction for who gets what part of the spectrum has yet to take place, this gives the company a massive advantage over its competitors.
While of course Everything Everywhere was pleased with this announcement from OfCom, other mobile providers were quick to voice disapproval. According to Wired, Vodafone was first, its spokesperson saying that the company was shocked at the 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.”
OfCom’s public statement said that the group felt consumers shouldn’t be held back from experiencing the next-generation data transfer platform any longer and that the benefits to consumers would outweigh the “distortion of competition.”
Ultimately, it seems like this is an effort by OfCom to get the ball rolling. The UK has really fallen behind with 4G adoption, with infighting between mobile operators being the main reason for the delays. While giving Everything Everywhere an early start does seem a little unfair on the others, it will make them all the more keen to get the auction under way so they don’t fall even further behind.
The auction for the rest of the 4G spectrum is expected to take place before the end of the year, with other mobile companies able to offer their customers 4G data transfers sometime in 2013.
KitGuru Says: It does seem a little unfair considering how long the fights for 4G spectrum have been ongoing, but the auction has been delayed so many times it’s not surprising that OfCom decided to use a catalyst like this to get things started.