Finally the big mobile operators have begun to shake hands over how the auction for 4G services will take place this year, with the agreement between them all expecting to be signed tonight – presumably because none of them want to give Everyone Everywhere (EE) too much of a lead in on the next-gen data transfer service.
EE (formerly Orange and T-Mobile) recently gained a massive head start over its competitors after it was given the go ahead to use some of its existing 2G spectrum to operate 4G services. However that lead won’t be quite as long as the initially forecasted year and a half. More likely, it will now be closer to nine months.
The only reason such a lead in existed at all however, is because the other big mobile operators, including O2, Vodafone and Three, refused to allow the latter (and smallest) of the group to have preferential treatment in the auction. Three claimed since it was by far the smallest it needed to be sold a portion of the 4G spectrum without the competition from others. Naturally O2, Vodafone and EE contested this – leading to a delay in the OfCom auction.
Now however, to help combat any further delays, the regulatory body has agreed to bring forward the auction date and the deadline for clearing the spectrum – meaning UK citizens should get earlier access. It is now expected to take place in January, instead of the initially planned March date, according to The Guardian.
While some people that live outside major cities have yet to see even 3G, due to incomplete coverage by the mobile operators, the introduction of 4G is said likely to allow for an increase in the availability of high speed wireless internet to more rural areas. Either 4G itself will cover it, or the freeing up of the 3G spectrum in cities will see it re-purposed as a broadband option for those in far flung places.
KitGuru Says: Considering countries like Estonia already have 4G access, it’s good that this squabble is finally being sorted out. It’s about time the UK caught up with the rest of the world. What do you guys think about this? Do you care about 4G? Do you have a phone that would make use of it? Let us know in the comment section below or on the KG Facebook page.